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Poland: Privatizing war subject of conference

27-04-2006 News Release 06/21

The privatization of war is the topic of a conference to take place today and tomorrow in Warsaw.

Organized jointly by the ICRC and the Polish Institute of International Affairs  , the meeting will bring together academics, experts in the field of private military and security services and industry representatives to discuss the growing involvement of the private sector in today's armed conflicts, the origins of this trend and the consequences in terms of law.

In the past decade and a half, the States have contracted out to private companies more and more functions that were once performed by their own security or military apparatuses. These include logistical support for military deployments, protection of premises, close protection of individuals, training of military and police forces at home and abroad, armed combat, intelligence gathering and analysis, and custody and interrogation of prisoners. Many of these activities put the staff of private companies in direct contact with those protected by international humanitarian law, such as persons deprived of their freedom and the civilian population as a whole.

The ICRC's main concern is that these new entities should respect humanitarian law in armed conflicts. Private staff must be aware of the law, and their actions, procedures, rules of engagement and so on must conform with its provisions. Finally, there must be mechanisms for holding private companies and their staff accountable for any violations.

The Warsaw conference is one way in which the ICRC is engaging in dialogue with the private military and security industry and with gov ernments to determine how compliance with international humanitarian law can best be ensured in this new environment.

 For further information please contact:  

 Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 24 26 or (mobile) +41 79 217 32 64  

 Marcin Monko, ICRC Budapest (delegation responsible for Central Europe), tel +36 20 24 999 85