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Twenty-Fourth Human Rights Council, Geneva, 9 to 27 September 2013

UK Statement on the Working Group's Report on the use of mercenaries.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

United Nations Office in Geneva
United Nations Office in Geneva

Mr President,

The UK would like to thank the members of the Working Group for their Report.

While agreeing on the importance of better regulating the activities of private security companies in order to raise standards and help prevent human rights abuses, the UK continues to regret the Working Group’s conflation of mercenaries with legitimate private security companies.

The Report usefully analyses different approaches to regulating PSCs in several African countries, but we are disappointed that the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) is not widely referenced in the Report. When the ICoC Association (ICoCA) launches in Geneva this month it will be the only global mechanism available that can independently audit PSCs in the field.

The ICoCA can contribute to resolving many of the issues identified in the Report. For example, the Report notes a lack of consistency in the ambit of regulatory efforts in the countries studied, but the ICoC and the standards that flow from it can provide governments and PSCs with consistent, internationally recognised standards. The ICoC also references areas such as training in firearms that the Report notes are absent from some countries’ legislation, and sets out that minimum standards must be met.

The Report also notes the need for a more robust approach by the UN to procuring PSCs: by building recognition of membership of the ICoCA into its procurement processes the UN, and other PSC clients, can ensure they only contract PSCs that are already being monitored by an independent, global oversight mechanism. The UK reiterates its opposition to the draft convention which it views as less likely to drive up standards in the industry in a reasonable timeframe. We also note that the Human Rights Council should be concerned with human rights issues, not other areas of international law such as international humanitarian law. The UK also notes the Report’s reference to the importance of links between efforts to raise PSC standards and the UNGPs. The UK is the first country to publish an Action Plan setting out how it will implement the UNGPs, and our Action Plan highlights the important contribution our work with the ICoCA will make to this effort.

Mr President,

The UK would like to thank the Independent Expert on Equitable International order for his report. However, the UK questions the value added by this mandate as the issues within the report are widely dealt with under other mandates and mechanisms.

Published 11 September 2013