4 March 2022
The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries is alarmed by the growing use of mercenaries and mercenary-related actors in armed conflicts around the world. “We are witnessing the ever-increasing presence of mercenaries and mercenary-related actors in contemporary armed conflicts and the ever-mounting risk of grave human rights abuses and war crimes” said Sorcha MacLeod, Chair of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries.
Given the current complex international peace and security context, the Working Group expressed serious concerns about the ongoing recruitment, financing, use and transfer of mercenaries and mercenary-related actors in and out of different conflict situations around the world. In many instances, the presence of these private actors prolongs the conflict, acts as a destabilising factor, and undermines peace efforts.
The experts are also concerned that the recruitment and sending of mercenaries and mercenary-related actors to conflict zones, exacerbates the risk of conflicts spreading to other regions. The Working Group has continuously raised concerns that the operations of mercenaries and mercenary-related actors increase the risk of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. “The Working Group has highlighted extensively, the patterns of grave abuses and violations committed with impunity by these actors, such as extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, rape, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, and torture. They are also known to indiscriminately target civilians” explained MacLeod.
The Working Group reiterates that all actors should refrain from using, recruiting, financing or training, mercenaries or mercenary-related actors under all circumstances. Furthermore, all actors should abide by the UN Charter and the legal obligations arising from international human rights law, and where applicable, international humanitarian law.
Finally, MacLeod restated the Working Group’s position that “states should implement effective international and national regulation. Human rights abuses and humanitarian law violations by mercenaries must not be allowed to go unpunished by States and the international community. Violations must be investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, and effective remedies provided to victims.”
Ms. Sorcha MacLeod (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Jelena Aparac, Mr. Ravindran Daniel, Mr. Chris Kwaja, Working Group on the use of mercenaries