Mercenary or army: private military companies in legal parlance

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Kampala International University. School of law
Much has been said about the pros and cons of out-sourcing of military services by governments in times of international armed conflicts from various perspectives, like the economic sociopolitical etc. the current discourse is just a mere continuation of the debate though from a legal perspective. What makes this study unique is the approach, where the starting point is the existing regime and the origin of the private military industry, unlike other studies which tend to be futuristic giving PMCs cloak of legality rightly or wrongly so. Hence, focusing much on what the industry can do or cannot do, and ultimately how it can be regulated rather than looking at the legality in view of the legal provisions in force.Thus, much debate on Private Military Companies has often by-passed the existing regime or treated it as a non issue, and by extension the general assumption that private military companies operate in a legal grey zone. It is important to note that despite the introduction of this new player no single law has been changed in this regard, and it is only upon examining the current legal provisions that their legal status clearly comes out. The existence in a purported legal vacuum which to some extent is by design has left the industry unaccountable and unregulated leading to grave human rights abuses by its personnel hence the current discourse. The foregoing being the parameters of the study, the objectives included; i) To assess the international legal regime governing PMCs. ii) To establish state responsibility in times of conflict of international character. iii) Todetermine whether PMCs are adequately regulated under both international law and IHL. iv) to assess the legal effects of PMC operations. v) To examine whether security may be contracted. The study found that under the existing regime governing international armed conflicts PMCs are illegal and any attempt at regulating the industry is an exercise in futility. The discourse also attempted to streamline the debate which has been lopsided in favour of PMCs from how non-state actors should use force to whether they should be allowed to use force. Hence, recommended that PMCs should be banned from international armed conflicts.
A Thesis presented to the School of postgraduate studies and research Kampala International University Kampala, Uganda in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Laws
Military companies, Legal parlance