A ‘Pacifist’ Approach to Military Contracting

How German History Explains Its Limited Use of Private Security Companies

Authored by: Birthe Anders

The Routledge Research Companion to Security Outsourcing in the Twenty-first Century

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472426833
eBook ISBN: 9781315613376
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042228


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The use of Private Security Companies (PSCs) by state and non-state clients is a well-described phenomenon. There are, however, many differences in how states approach contracting from PSCs as well as from military service providers. These include the existence and implementation of policies, regulations, services contracted and the scope of outsourcing. Germany is a country that has adopted a very cautious approach to PSC contracting. This is not only in contrast to countries like the United Kingdom and United States, but also in contrast to the part or total privatisation of other previously public services, such as public transport and telecommunications. As will be seen below, Germany has what can be called a ‘Sonderweg’ 1 when it comes to contracting PSCs and outsourcing military services more generally. Other European countries have also long been reluctant to use PSCs, but have slowly increased their use of such companies. For example the Swedish government is now more accepting of PSCs and has increased its contracting, a development which was partly fostered by shifts in Swedish foreign and security policy (Berndtsson 2014, for discussions of several additional cases, see Leander 2013). However, Germany is still very reluctant to contract PSCs. At the same time, several military services are contracted from the private sector. Additionally, the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, rely on a number of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the maintenance of materiel, clothing and catering. This allows for strong governmental oversight of service delivery. Why is this the case? While Germany is not a completely pacifist country in the sense that it opposes all military force, we will see below that strong pacifist tendencies are found in the German Constitution as well as among the populace. These can help explain the country’s approach to contracting.

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