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Private military companies: their status under international humanitarian law and its impact on their regulation

30-09-2006 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 863, by Lindsey Cameron

The article considers possible consequences of private military companies’ employees having the status of civilians under international humanitarian law and their potential impact on regulating these companies effectively.

   

Lindsey Cameron
is Doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Geneva. She is a research and teaching assistant at the University of Geneva and the University Centre for International Humanitarian Law. 

 
Abstract 
States are increasingly hiring private military companies to act in zones where armed conflicts are occurring. The predominant feeling in the international community is that it would be best to regulate such companies. Cognizant of much confusion as to the status of the employees of private military companies under international humanitarian law, this article explains the laws on mercenaries, combatants and civilians and explores how private military companies’ employees may fall into any of those categories. It demonstrates that the concept of mercenarism is unhelpful for regulating these companies and that it is unlikely that many of the employees of these companies can be considered to have combatant status. The article considers possible consequences of private military companies’ employees having the status of civilians under international humanitarian law and their potential impact on regulating these companies effectively.  

   
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