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United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries convenes first regional consultaton for Latin America and Carribean countries

Geneva, 14 December: The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination will convene a Regional Consultation for Latin America and Caribbean countries from 17 to 18 December 2007, in Panama City, Panama.

The consultation aims to gather a regional perspective about the current practices of private military and security companies recruiting personnel to be deployed in armed conflict or post conflict situations, and share information on steps taken by States from the region to introduce legislation or/and other measures to regulate and monitor the activities of such companies on the international market.

The Working Group will consult with government representatives, experts, academics specialized on private military and security companies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as the two main associations from the private military and security industry. The Working Group welcomes this opportunity to discuss general guidelines, norms or basic principles for the regulation and oversight of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market to encourage the further protection of human rights.

The Working Group delegation will be headed by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group, Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado, and include Working Group members Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez and Mr. Alexander Nikitin

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 by the Commission on Human Rights in 2005. The Working Group is composed of five independent experts, serving in their personal capacities, and is headed by its Chairperson-Rapporteur, Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain). The other Working Group experts are Ms. Najat Al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Russia) and Ms. Shaista Shameem (Fiji).

For more information on the resolution establishing the mandate of the Working Group, please consult the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/mercenaries/index.htm