The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/2. It succeeded the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries, which had been in existence since 1987 and was serviced by Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros (Peru) from 1987 to 2004 and Ms. Shaista Shameem (Fiji). In March 2008, the Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the Working Group for a period of three years.
In paragraph 2 of resolution 7/21, the Human Rights Council requested the Working Group:
(a) To elaborate and present concrete proposals on possible complementary and new standards aimed at filling existing gaps, as well as general guidelines or basic principles encouraging the further protection of human rights, in particular the right of peoples to self-determination, while facing current and emergent threats posed by mercenaries or mercenary-related activities;
(b) To seek opinions and contributions from Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on questions relating to its mandate;
(c) To monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations in different parts of the world;
(d) To study and identify sources and causes, emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding mercenaries or mercenary-related activities and their impact on human rights, particularly on the right of peoples to self-determination;
(e) To monitor and study the effects on the enjoyment of human rights, particularly the right of peoples to self-determination, of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market, and to prepare a draft of international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights by those companies in their activities.