About 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

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 resolution 2005/2 of the then Commission on Human Rights. It succeeded the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries, which had been in existence since 1987 (see further below for more information on that mechanism).

Since 2005, the Human Rights Council has renewed the mandate of the Working Group several times, most recently in 2019 for a period of three years through resolution 42/9. The General Assembly also regularly adopts resolutions on the use of mercenaries that touch on the activities of the Working Group, most recently through resolution 74/138 in 2019.

The Working Group is mandated to:  

  • Monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations;
  • Study and identify sources and causes, emerging issues, manifestations and trends with regard to mercenaries and mercenary-related activities and private military and security companies and their impact on human rights, particularly on the right of peoples to self-determination. 
  • Continue the work already carried out by previous mandate holders on the strengthening of the international legal framework for the prevention and sanction of the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries;
  • Actively participate in other subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council considering issues related to the use of mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations, including private military and security companies.

In carrying out its mandate, the Working Group:

  1. Transmits communications to Governments and other actors with regard to specific allegations of human rights violations involving mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, or private military and security companies;
  2. Undertakes country visits to examine the impact of mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, or private military and security companies on the enjoyment of human rights in the respective country, and submits reports to the Human Rights Council on the findings of the visit, including concrete and constructive recommendations to the Government and other actors to address areas that may benefit from improvement;
  3. Submits annual thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the activities of the mandate and specific thematic issues related to mercenaries, mercenary-related activities, and private military and security and companies.

Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries (1987-2005)

In 1987, the then Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. Under this mandate, the Special Rapporteur was to examine the question of the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (resolution 1987/16).

In 2004, the Commission requested the Special Rapporteur to continue taking into account the new forms, manifestations and modalities of mercenary activities in many parts of the world and, requested that they "pay particular attention to the impact of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination” (resolution 2004/5).

In 2005, the Commission of Human Rights ended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in order to establish the Working Group on the use of mercenaries. For more information on the work of the Special Rapporteur see Fact Sheet N.28.



Special Procedures
Working Group on the use of mercenaries
Recent thematic reports
Contact information
Others involved
External links