n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Private security contractors and state responsibility : are states exempt from responsibility for violations of humanitarian law perpetrated by private security contractors?

Volume 41, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The official status of private security contractors (PSCs) under international humanitarian law remains controversial. While the market for employing PSCs is growing, the international humanitarian law, has not kept abreast of these developments, thus leaving the actions of these contractors unclassified and unregulated. Moreover the outsourcing of traditionally military functions to private contractors places victims of abuse at the hands of PSCs in a difficult position since the remedies which would be available to victims against abuses at the hands of the traditional armed forces are not alway savailable when PSCs are involved. In this piece I will explore the alternatives and consequences of classifying PSCs as mercenaries, combatants, service personnel, 'persons accompanying the armed forces, 'civilians or unlawful combatants. What follows thereafter is an analysis of the International Law Commission's Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (ASR), and an exploration of the possibility that state responsibility might flow from the actions of PSCs, despite a state's deliberate attempt to evade this consequence by refusing to incorporate PSCs into their traditional armed forces.

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