Report on the relationship between private military and security companies and extractive industry companies from a human rights perspective in law and practice

29 July 2019
Issued by:
Working Group on the use of mercenaries
To the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in 2019


Twice a year, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries issues calls for inputs to inform thematic studies to be presented at the Human Rights Council in its September session and at the General Assembly in October.

On 20 July 2017, the Working Group convened an expert consultation entitled “private military and security companies in extractive industries – impact on human rights”. As indicated in the concept note , the event focused on two main segments: 1. Extractive industries and PMSCs in conflict settings, and 2. Good practices, existing regulatory framework, and accountability /remedies for human rights abuses.

Building on this event and on the work undertaken by other United Nations human rights mechanisms and civil society organizations regarding the impact of the extractive industries on the enjoyment of human rights (e.g., Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, A/HRC/24/41, 2013), the Working Group dedicated this thematic reports on the specific role that private military and security companies (PMSCs) play in extractive industries.

On 25 September 2019, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries released a note calling for transparency and oversight for security arrangements in extractive industries.


The extractive industry constitutes an important client base for PMSCs and has been associated with allegations of serious human rights abuses and violations for many years. The exploitation of non-renewable natural resources has frequently been cited as a factor in triggering, escalating or sustaining conflicts and insurgencies, and of generating insecurity in communities. It further impacts on a broad spectrum of human rights amid a lack of accountability, and gaps in liability of individuals and corporate actors and in remedies for victims. However, the particular relationships between PMSCs and the extractive industry, and the impact of the activities of PMSCs in the aforementioned areas, have received significantly less attention.

In this report, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries sets out key considerations with respect to the context of the extractive industry in which PMSCs operate. It examines their role alongside other security providers in complex and often opaque mixed security arrangements. It outlines relevant international and national law provisions and other instruments, as well as non-binding initiatives of relevance to the conduct of security actors in the extractive industry, considering the limitations of these initiatives in the absence of strong national and international legally binding regulations for private military and security companies. The Working Group then examines the most commonly reported human rights abuses and violations committed and facilitated by private military and security companies mandated by extractive clients. It analyses the factors relating to the lack of accountability and effective remedies for victims for such abuses and violations.

The Working Group is concerned at the lack of a clear, precise and legally defined role for each security actor operating in the extractive industry. This further raises concerns about the conduct of security providers, including PMSCs, and their involvement in alleged human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of natural resource exploitation. The Working Group calls for transparency in security arrangements for extractive operations, given that the current opacity around them obstructs the identification of perpetrators and thus undermines efforts to achieve accountability and effective remedies for victims.

The Working Group concludes the report with recommendations to assist States, the extractive industry, private military and security companies and other stakeholders to strengthen human rights protections in the delivery of security in the extractive sector. In particular, it urges States to strengthen regulation and oversight of private military and security companies, including by supporting international and national legally binding instruments. It also calls upon States, extractive companies and private military and security companies to be more transparent with regard to security arrangements and responses to allegations of abuses.

View the press release

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All submissions received are published below, unless the submitter clearly indicated that they did not wish to have their input be made publicly available when submitting their response.
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