The Extension of International Human Rights Law to Private Military and Security Companies

Authored by: Anton Katz , Margaret Maffai

Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729352
eBook ISBN: 9781315850986
Adobe ISBN:


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It is with good reason that the title of this chapter refers to the extension of international human rights law (IHRL) to private military and security companies, or PMSCs. The use of this word, which is meant to give the impression of an on-going process, and to invoke an image of stretching something beyond its historical boundary, is intentional. For reasons this chapter will explain, PMSCs are not directly bound by international human rights law. That is, IHRL is binding only on states, which ratify treaties and show through their conduct over time which rules of law are accepted as customary international law. PMSCs, as non-state actors, do not have human rights obligations. Rather, states have human rights obligations they must uphold vis-à-vis PMSC activities. This is not to say that PMSCs operate outside the rule of law; rather those companies that violate international human rights law are subject to it only insofar as states hold them accountable.

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