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Statements Special Procedures

Statement at the conclusion of the 21st session of the UN Working Group on the use of Mercenaries

07 March 2014

GENEVA (7 March 2014) The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries today concluded its 21st session. It held an expert meeting on options for a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs), as well as a panel event on the use of PMSCs by the United Nations.

On 3 March, the Working Group held discussions with representatives from civil society on the importance of an international binding instrument to regulate the activities of PMSCs, including minimum standards of regulation, as well as strategies to mobilize stakeholders in support of a legally binding instrument to enhance constructive engagement with States, international organizations, non-governmental organizations. The expert body will elaborate further the existing draft international convention on private military and security companies.

On 5 March, the Working Group held a public event on the UN use of PMSCs which was opened by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The participants discussed the recently adopted UN Policy and Guidelines on the use of armed guards and the challenges faced by the United Nations when outsourcing a number of security tasks to private contractors. Discussions highlighted the risks posed to UN operations, its staff and to local populations. The need for the UN to ensure that PMSCs and their employees’ acts in conformity with international standards was also emphasized. Participants made concrete proposals to address some of the challenges such as putting in place a robust selection and vetting process when employing private security companies, as well as ensuring that mechanisms are established to provide remedies for possible human rights violations.

Later this year, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries will submit a report to the UN General Assembly containing an overview of the UN policy regarding the use of PMSCs.


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 was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Ms. Patricia Arias (Chair-Rapporteur, Chile), Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary), Mr. Anton Katz (South Africa), Ms. Elżbieta Karska (Poland) and Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan). Learn more, log on to:

Read the Working Group’s reports to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council:

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