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Regulating the private security industry: a story of regulating the last war

30-09-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 887, by Sarah Percy


This article argues that attempts to regulate the private military and security industry have been stymied by a tendency to be constantly ‘regulating the last war’ or responding to the challenges of a previous manifestation of private force rather than dealing with the current challenges. It argues that states ought to more clearly consider the direction of the industry rather than regulate in response to crises, an approach that has left regulation unequipped to deal with two fields of PSC growth: the use of PSCs against piracy, and to deliver and support humanitarian aid. 

Keywords: mercenaries, private security companies, private military companies.


Sarah Percy is Professor of International Relations at the University of Western Australia. She is the author of numerous works about private force, including Mercenaries: The History of a Norm in International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Regulating the Private Security Industry (Adelphi Paper, 2006).