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“Mercenaries still pose a serious threat to human rights,” warns UN expert body

GENEVA (8 April 2011) – The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries discussed recent events in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya and warned Friday that mercenaries are still very active in Africa where they have been recruited to attack civilians.

“The issue of mercenaries is still alive,” said the Group’s Chair-Rapporteur, José Luis Gómez del Prado, at the end of the expert body’s 12th session in Geneva, where they examined country situations involving the use of mercenaries. “Such mercenaries are being used as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of people to self-determination.”

“We are especially concerned about the reported involvement of mercenaries in serious human rights violations,” stressed Mr. Gómez del Prado. In this regard, the Working Group reiterated its call on States to ratify the International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries of 4 December 1989.

During its week-long session, the Working Group also discussed their draft Convention* on Private Military and Security Companies, as well as the experts’ participation in the forthcoming inter-governmental discussions on the possibility of establishing such a regulatory framework, which will take place from 23 to 27 May 2011 in Geneva.

“This is an important moment and we very much hope that many States and civil society actors will participate in these discussions and consider the draft convention which has been the product of many years of discussions and consultations with a range of stakeholders,” Mr. Gómez del Prado said.

The members of the Working Group will act as resource persons in these discussions which will focus, among other things, on their proposal for an International Convention, which was presented to the Human Rights Council last September.

(*) Check the Working Groups draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/docs/A.HRC.15.25.pdf

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/index.htm

International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/mercenaries.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Catherine Phuong (Tel: +41 22 917 9271 / email: cphuong@ohchr.org) or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org.