Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
While public attention has turned away from Iraq and Afghanistan, the private armies that gained notoriety there have seen business booming around the world.
According to a report by charity War on Want, the companies have found a wealth of new clients in the private sector, particularly in the extractive industries. They have sought out and exploited political instability in the wake of the Arab uprisings, and their floating armouries find lucrative business protecting commercial shipping interests across the world’s oceans.
In this industry, war and conflict are opportunities for profit. It is also an industry in which the UK plays a leading role.
The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers is a voluntary code with a number of commitments such as:
‘Signatory Companies will not… participate in, encourage, or seek to benefit from any national or international crimes including but not limited to war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, enforced disappearance, forced or compulsory labour, hostage-taking, sexual or gender-based violence, human trafficking, the trafficking of weapons or drugs, child labour or extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.’
That is all very well, but the association set up to oversee use of the code has been found to be lacking in key areas such as governance, monitoring and state responsibility, according to War on Want.The code of conduct simply serves to legitimise the industry’s actions
For instance, the same body with the power to certify whether a company is meeting the principles of the voluntary code is dominated by representatives of the industry itself; thirteen civil society organisations are outnumbered by 135 security companies.
The lack of a significant sanctions process also leads the report to conclude that the code of conduct simply serves to legitimise the industry’s actions.
War on Want calls on the UK government to introduce binding controls on the industry as a matter of urgency and they support ongoing efforts to create an international legally binding framework.
The report Mercenaries Unleashed is available on the War on Want website.
Picture credit: The U.S. Army on flickr.com
Marienna Pope-Weidemann explains why decades of occupation and oppression have led some people to call Israel an apartheid state.
International Women's Day is set to be marked by strikes from "paid work in offices and factories, or unpaid domestic work in homes, communities and bedrooms."
Laurie Laybourn-Langton writes that measuring the economy is political - and economic measurement dominates politics.
David Scott argues that our prison system represents a human rights disaster, and reformist solutions can't tackle the root problems.
A deeper engagement with culture can strengthen our democracy, taking political projects beyond electoral impact and festival memes into a whole new world of radical, lasting change.
Ruth Tanner writes that revelations about Oxfam's behaviour in Haiti are shocking, but not surprising.
The actions of Oxfam officials are horrendous - but gutting foreign aid funding just puts more people at risk, writes Daniel Gibson.
Dr Laura Basu explains that the media allowed politicians to re-write history, erasing the true causes of the economic crisis.
Outsourced cleaners are on the front lines of the battle for workers' rights. By Emiliano Mellino
Power to our beloved comrade and friend, Mehmet Aksoy, a hero of Kurdistan and the internationalist struggles against capitalism, colonialism and fascism. This tribute was authored by Mehmet’s family and friends.
For All, By All
The latest issue of Red Pepper asks - how do we invite, support and nurture greater public participation so that our cultural capabilities are empowered beyond the crushing logic of market fundamentalism?
‘We are hungry in three languages’: The forgotten promise of the Bosnian Spring
Ruth Tanner looks back at a wave of protests which swept through Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014.
It’s time for a cultural renewal of the left
Andrew Dolan writes that we need to integrate art, music, films and poetry into our movement, creating spaces where political ideas are given further room to breathe.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes