‘Case of the Week’ 3 (NCFCA): Restrict PMSCs

Important Disclaimer: We pretty much just throw these together over the weekend, and don’t put a lot of work into them. Case of the Week cases are not subject to the same editorial process and stringent quality standards as the COG 2012 sourcebook, and are frequently contributed by non-COG authors. You may find material and sources in these cases that would not appear in the sourcebook. That said, we hope these cases will be useful to you; enjoy!

About the Author: After a successful four-year policy debate career in the NCFCA (including a 6-0 record and 5th place finish at the 2011 Texas Open), Anthony founded WhyDebate and began teaching debate workshops over Skype and coaching debaters across the country – some of whom received awards at both the regional and national level. He currently studies economics and political science at Baylor University. Anthony writes for COG.

1AC: Restrict Private Military Security Contractors

By Anthony Severin

It is imperative that the United Nations have an effective peacekeeping force. However, UN peacekeepers cannot be effective when certain organizations, hired by the UN itself, are committing war crimes and atrocities against the very ideals of peace espoused by the UN. These organizations, known as “private military security contractors,” PMSCs, or mercenaries, are essentially privatized military forces. It is because these PMSCs do not advance the interests of any nation which values peace, human rights, and security, that we stand Resolved: That the United Nations should be significantly reformed or abolished.

To understand why we need to change anything, let’s first take a look at the current policy under…

Part 1: Inherency

1. PMSCs increasingly used by the UN

Åse Gilje Østensen (Democracy and Rule of Law Reserach Fellow at the University of Bergen, specializes in the study of PMCs), 2011, Geneva Center for Democratic Control of Armed Forces, “UN Use of Private Military and Security”, http://www.dcaf.ch/Publications/UN-Use-of-Private-Military-and-Security-Companies-Practices-and-Policies

“Of late, the private military and security industry increasingly offers services that penetrate some of the core activities and tasks of the United Nations and is eager to supplement the tasks often performed by UN organisations in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, political missions or as part of regular country office work. The practice of the United Nations buying PMSC services is, however, rarely a topic open to discussion, and there has been little public acknowledgement of it whatsoever.”

We’ll talk in a minute about just why PMCs are so dangerous, but for now, let’s introduce…

Part 2: The Plan

Agency and Enforcement will be the United Nations.

Mandate: The United Nations will immediately remove private military security companies from situations where the use of arms or deadly force could be necessary.

No additional funding is necessary.

Now let’s look at the reasons to vote for the affirmative in…

Part 3: Justifications

…or why you should vote affirmative.

1. Extreme violence and abusive activities

Bad things happen in all conflicts and wars. But PMSCs are regularly documenting using excessive and abusive violence:

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum, MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

There is ample evidence of extreme violence and abusive conduct by PMSC employees in conflict zones, documented by such sources as US diplomatic cables and investigative newspaper accounts. As the New York Times commented in its review of leaked diplomatic cables, security contractors in Iraq were “discredited for unjustified shootings” and other criminal behavior. The Times noted that “contractors often shot with little discrimination – and few if any consequences – at unarmed Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces, American troops and even other contractors, stirring public outrage …” The US documents speak of attacks by guards on other guards, hazing and humiliation of subordinates by senior company officers, contractors firing weapons for pleasure when intoxicated, and even a battle involving three separate security companies fighting each other.”

But why is this such an issue? Why is there little outrage, when a state military in the same situation would quickly gain a reputation for violence and be ostracized by the world? Because of the…

Impact: Secrecy compounds abuses

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum, MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

PMSCs perform many of their activities in the dark, beyond public scrutiny and democratic accountability. This secrecy is typical of the security field, where transparency is seen as a potential weakness, and opacity usually suits both the companies and their clients. As the head of the US-based industry lobbying group has said, “we can do things on short notice and keep our mouths shut.” Further, because of the services they provide, PMSCs often operate in unstable crisis areas, such as war-torn zones or remote resource exploitation sites. As PMSC Aegis advertises on its website, it is ready to respond to situations of “natural disaster, civil unrest, conflict, or a complex combination of all three.” 60 In such situations, general chaos and confusion make it difficult to know exactly what PMSC employees do. Abuses are also less likely to be reported and made public in places shunned by the media or where media reporters are themselves protected by the same companies.”

2. Legal gray area leads to abuse

Countries are responsible for the actions of their militaries, and the United nations and other multilateral organizations have the tools to keep state militaries in check. But PMSCs and mercenaries have no such clear guiding organizations, as their home countries always disclaim responsibility for PMSC action. In fact,

PMSCs are legally on the same level as terrorists and paramilitaries

José L. Gómez del Prado (Member of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, MA in Sociology, Political Science, and Languages from the University of Geneve), 2008, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, “Private Military and Security Companies and the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries”, Vol. 13, No. 3

“Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilise governments. They cannot be considered soldiers either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities. Neither civilians nor combatants, these ‘private soldiers’ are in fact ‘unlawful combatants’. Paramilitaries and terrorists could claim the same legitimacy as these ‘private soldiers’.”

Beyond the obvious tragedy that we would willingly employ organizations with the legality of a terrorist organization, it directly increases abuse:

Impact: Directly increases abuse

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

As a result of this legal void, in most cases where contractor employees have committed murder, engaged in sexual abuse, perpetrated fraud, smuggled arms, or committed other crimes, they have escaped punishment and often did not even lose their jobs.  Crime scene investigations are mostly perfunctory and officials seem inclined to protect the companies rather than to seek justice. The well-known example of the Nisour Square massacre by Blackwater guards is a case in point. Although 17 innocent Iraqis died in the incident and in spite of five investigations, including one by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, not a single person was ever found guilty, though there were many witnesses, relatively strong evidence, and ample information about the company’s regular use of unreasonable deadly force.”

Conclusion

It’s clear that the United nations uses private military contractors. It’s clear that many of these same contractors have been directly linked to human rights abuses, human trafficking, and horrid acts of violence. This association cannot be beneficial for anyone, least of all the United Nations and it’s goals. Thus, it is imperative that we affirm the resolution and eliminate the possibility of the use of PMSCs in any combat role. In the words of Lou Pingeot, just last month:

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

“In the end, the question of PMSCs is the question of what the UN is today and what it might become. Loosening the grip of the military and security companies poses a core challenge for those who seek reform and renovation of the world body. Only by ridding itself of violence-prone policies and security-centered frameworks can the UN move towards a different and more effective commitment to the well-being of all humanity.”

Backup: Restrict PMSCs

INHERENCY

Member states frequently contribute PMCs because requests lack specificity

Åse Gilje Østensen (Democracy and Rule of Law Research Fellow at the University of Bergen, specializes in the study of PMCs), 2011, Geneva Center for Democratic Control of Armed Forces, “UN Use of Private Military and Security”, http://www.dcaf.ch/Publications/UN-Use-of-Private-Military-and-Security-Companies-Practices-and-Policies

PMSCs also frequently get involved in UN operations through member state contingencies. This is a particularly common practice as far as US contributions to the United Nations are concerned. In fact, since the US administrative structure does not allow for a federal police force to be seconded directly to international missions, the State Department (DoS) relies entirely on recruiting police personnel from private contractors. These companies vet and hire civilian police personnel from state, local and municipal law enforcement agencies and subsequently supply police services to international peacekeeping and other missions without consulting or informing the United Nations. Police-contributing countries merely undertake to provide the service and the number of agreed police officers without further specifications given to the United Nations.

Used for base protection where combat is possible

Åse Gilje Østensen (Democracy and Rule of Law Research Fellow at the University of Bergen, specializes in the study of PMCs), 2011, Geneva Center for Democratic Control of Armed Forces, “UN Use of Private Military and Security”, http://www.dcaf.ch/Publications/UN-Use-of-Private-Military-and-Security-Companies-Practices-and-Policies

“Close protection or personal security details as well as perimeter security are services at the heart of the expertise of many PMSCs, and several have been known to cater to the United Nations. DSL, ArmorGroup and several ‘Gurkha’ companies have on a number of occasions covered services pertaining to the domain of SSS/DHSSS regarding protection of headquarters and premises, training, supply of guards, close protection, etc.”

UN uses armed guards, which can engage in violent conflict

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

The UN has also been using armed guards in Iraq and Somalia. And in November 2011, MINUSTAH, the Haiti peacekeeping mission, hired G4S to provide armed security guards at its Santo Domingo office for a year. Though armed guards are theoretically “static,” they can sometimes engage in mobile response to perceived security threats, making a violent conflict more likely. Armed guards may carry heavy automatic weapons and they can act in provocative and aggressive ways that may lead to violence.

HARMS/SIGNIFICANCE

UN uses PMSCs which are clearly guilty of misconduct

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

In the absence of guidelines and clear responsibility for security outsourcing, the UN has hired companies wellknown for their misconduct, violence and financial irregularities – and hired them repeatedly. These include DynCorp International, infamous for its role in a prostitution scandal involving the UN in Bosnia in the 1990s and, more recently, its participation in the US government’s “rendition” program; G4S, the industry leader known for its violent methods against detainees and deported asylum seekers; ArmorGroup, a G4S subsidiary singled out in a US Senate repor tfor its ties to Afghan warlords; and Saracen Uganda, an offshoot of notorious mercenary firm Executive Outcomes with links to illegal natural resources exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The UN should reassess and likely end relationship entirely with PMSCs

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

It is time that the UN reassesses the entire question of security and UN partnership with the companies. Does the organization want to be linked to these companies at all? Do they really increase security? Whose interests are they really serving? Can they work for the UN to promote democracy, legality and human respect when they so evidently foster secrecy, impunity and a contemptuous warrior ethos? These and other questions must be addressed. The likely conclusion is that the UN should end its use of PMSCs – so as to safeguard its reputation, its mission and its fundamental values.

Fewer PMSCs = less violence (PMSC culture leads to violence)

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

PMSC personnel have also engaged in extremely culturally insensitive behavior and there is a growing tendency to see these “guys with tattoos and sunglasses” as symbolic of unwanted foreign interference and a magnet for attacks by insurgents and outraged citizens. For this reason, the New York Times welcomed the drawdown of private security contractors in Iraq and opined that a reduction in the number of contractors might lead to less violence, and even to a lower threat to US diplomatic personnel. The security industry is extremely nervous about negative judgments of this kind and industry leaders continue to affirm that such behaviors violate industry norms and company rules. There is reason to believe, however, that these patterns spring from the industry culture, its security-obsessive outlook, and its military-oriented personnel recruitment process.

Hampers state building, development of democracy, and a stable military

José L. Gómez del Prado (Member of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, MA in Sociology, Political Science, and Languages from the University of Geneve), 2008, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, “Private Military and Security Companies and the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries”, Vol. 13, No. 3

“The use of PMSCs in post-consituations has also proved to be detrimental for weak states such as Afghanistan and Iraq in their phase of institution building by creating a state of impunity and damaging the mere purpose of the intervention, i.e. to establish democracy. The presence of these private guards, who are paid much more than these states can afford, also hampers efforts to build an effective state force.”

PMSCs define UN strategy even in an advisory capacity – not consistent with UN charter

Lou Pingeot (Program Coordinator at the Global Policy Forum MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris), June 2012, Global Policy Forum, “Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPF_Dangerous_Partnership_Full_report.pdf

PMSCs have a tough, “hard security” approach. They do not work on the acceptance model and their values tend to be very different from those embodied in the UN Charter. They base their understandings on military war fighting, secret intelligence operations, Special Forces black ops and other non-humanitarian and extra-legal experiences. By using these companies to provide risk assessment, security training and guarding in critical conflict zones, the UN is effectively allowing PMSCs to define its security strategy and even its broader posture and reputation.”

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6 Responses to ‘Case of the Week’ 3 (NCFCA): Restrict PMSCs

  1. Jacob says:

    This is really very stupid.

    Here’s a question you should ask yourself. Is it OK to ban PSCs if it means that peacekeeping missions around the world collapse. Because that is what you are advocating for. Lou Pingeot’s paper is awful, just plain awful for any expert on the subject – unvarnished bias is not research.

    PSCs do hundreds of different tasks – demining, the thousands of tasks that make up logistics (food, sanitation), base construction, helicopter leasing etc etc etc. that allow a mission to function. Without this? UN peacekeepers wouldn’t arrive on mission, wouldn’t be able to feed themselves, let alone go out and conduct missions.

    A tiny percentage do more – perimeter security etc. Why? Because it frees up soldiers or UN peacekeepers from guarding their compounds to going out and conducting their missions.

    An even tinier percentage (less than 1%) do even more – the trigger-pulling – mostly by the way in places (i.e. somalia) where nobody else will go. This is the one part that could use more regulation and oversight.

    There is a lot of space for improvement but to say we should just ban PSCs is plain stupid – it means thousands, if not millions more will die because the world lacked the resources (and of course will) to help them.

    • cogdebate says:

      I believe you’re misinterpreting the case. Reread the mandate:

      “The United Nations will immediately remove private military security companies from situations where the use of arms or deadly force could be necessary.”

      The case doesn’t ban PMSCs – it only removes them from the aforementioned “trigger-pulling” scenarios. PMSCs doing base construction, etc. would be entirely unaffected.

  2. As a relevant side note, I would encourage anyone interested in this case to pursue research regarding specific possible regulations. As Jacob talks about, pretty much everyone agrees that there is room for improvement in the selection and regulation process PMSCs. It’ll be difficult and probably painstaking to find any specific advocate, but if you do find an advocate for a particular regulation or procedure for screening PMSCs, your affirmative will probably be very tough to beat.

  3. danielsthomas says:

    Question: How would you defend topicality? I’m of the opinion (but it can change) that the resolution implies a structural change to the UN itself as evidenced by “reform or abolish”. This is a reform of policy – not of structure.

    Comments?

    • cogdebate says:

      The plan involves a fundamental change in how the UN carries out present and future peacekeeping operations, which can be considered a structural reform. It’s like if you run a sandwich shop, and you remove the peanut butter from your peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

      You’re entirely correct that structure and policy are two different things; this is actually an argument we’ll have in COG. However, a rigid “only pure structural changes are topical” stance has problems. Think of the United Nations as a car. Smashing the car’s engine with a sledgehammer obviously “reforms” the car. Driving the car to Wal-Mart obviously doesn’t reform the car. But driving the car into a tree, with the intention of smashing the car’s engine, clearly is a reform – even though you’re “only” driving the car, which supposedly isn’t a reform. You need a more nuanced brightline.

      The brightline we propose is basically “does this change how the UN will carry out similar but unrelated operations in the future?” If yes, then it’s a reform to the United Nations itself.

      – Daniel Gaskell

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