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Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies

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Private Military Contractors, War Crimes and International Humanitarian Law

C Osakwe

Abstract


The end of the Cold War witnessed the growth and spread of legally  established private military contractors (PMCs) playing largely undefined roles in wars, international security and post-conflict reconstruction. The operations of PMCs in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 21st century have been marked by  gross human rights abuses and poor treatment and torture of prisoners of war (POWs). Indeed, PMCs are likely to step outside their contractual obligations  and commit criminal acts. This article adds to the literature on the subject by  arguing that the elusiveness of PMCs’ individual or corporate responsibility for war crimes presents one of the greatest challenges for international  humanitarian law (IHL). This presents a dilemma for IHL, which seeks to  address individual offences. The situation becomes even more complicated  when non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) are involved in the use of PMCs.



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