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Global Study on national regulatory framework and legislation on PMSCs (2013-2016)

20 July 2017
Working Group on the use of mercenaries
To the 36st session of the Human Rights Council


Twice a year, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries issues calls for inputs to inform thematic studies to be presented at the Human Rights Council in its September session and at the General Assembly in October.

Between 2013 and 2016, the Working Group conducted a comprehensive Global Study of national legislation and regulations with a view to study and identify trends in national regulatory frameworks relevant to private military and security companies (PMSCs) in 60 States from all the regions of the world. The methodology for the study included a questionnaire sent to States in 2012. Over 30 States responded. Additional research was conducted on States� laws and regulations.

The results of this comprehensive study and analysis of national legislation, which provides a basis of research for a variety of stakeholders, has informed the production of six reports on this issue presented to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council over three years.


The Global Study was conducted to provide analysis of national legislation in order to assess existing gaps, trends and good practices, which could help in developing guidance on regulation within and of the industry.

Report A/HRC/36/47 provides an overview of the findings of the Global Study. The findings focus on existing regulatory gaps, commonalities and good practices and provide guidance to Member States and various stakeholders on regulation. The Working Group reiterated the need for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument to ensure adequate human rights protection within, and of, the industry.

In this report, the Working Group analyzed the available laws and regulations relating to PMSCs in all of the United Nations regional groups, on the basis of the following criteria: (a) references to conventions on mercenaries; (b) scope of application; (c) rules on licensing, authorization and registration; (d) regulations on selection and training; (e) prohibited and permitted activities of PMSCs; (f) rules on acquisition of weapons by PMSCs; (g) use of force and firearms; and (h) accountability.

Previous reports (A/HRC/24/45; A/68/339; A/HRC/27/50; A/HRC/30/34; and A/HRC/33/43) focused on laws and regulations on PMSCs in selected countries across all regions of the world and discussed trends and differences in regulatory approaches.

Countries covered in these region-specific reports include:
- Africa (Anglophone): Botswana, Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe
- Africa (Francophone): Burkina Faso, Cameroon, C�te d�Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia
- Asia and the Pacific: China, India, Malaysia, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates
- Central America and the Caribbean: Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama
- South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay
- Commonwealth of Independent States: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
- WEOG: Australia, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America

Regional studies

To elaborate the above-mentioned reports, the Working Group conducted comprehensive studies for each region of the world between 2013 and 2016.

The following background documents have been used to prepare some of the above-mentioned regional studies: Anglophone Africa study; Francophone Africa study: 1 | 2; and Asia study.

Collection of national legislation on private military and security companies

The Working Group collected national laws and regulations on the following:

  • private security companies or services,
  • private military companies or services,
  • private maritime security companies or services,
  • private intelligence gathering companies or services,
  • companies providing training to public security forces,
  • defining and/or limiting which Government functions can be outsourced to private companies,
  • registration, licensing, vetting, or training requirements for PMSC companies and/or personnel,
  • criminal measures relevant to PMSCs or their personnel, including laws relating to the jurisdiction of national courts over offenses committed abroad by companies or individuals from your country, and
  • Mercenaries.

Inputs received


Panel events

On 1 December 2015, the Working Group organized a panel event in Geneva on "the regulation of private military and security companies", as another element of its Global study on national regulations.

The overall objective of the event was to discuss several questions, including: i) are PMSCs above the law? ii) how to ensure that PMSCs respect human rights? iii) after "Blackwater", how to ensure that no loopholes are allowed for PMSCs? iv) as warfare is increasingly privatized, how to strengthen regulations, particularly for human rights? and v) what access to remedy is available for victims of PMSCs abuses?

Panel 1: PMSCs regulation at the national level

Panel 2: National experiences of PMSCs regulations

On 21 July 2016, the Working Group organized another panel event in New York focusing on the "Privatization of war: impact on human rights". It addressed the main questions: i) the effect of privatization of war on the right of peoples to self-determination and how the latter could be strengthened; ii) the effect of privatization of war on accountability for human rights and IHL violations, and on access to remedy for victims, and iii) options for regulation to ensure accountability for PMSCs activity and access to redress to victims.