Report on the gendered human rights impacts of private military and security companies
Working Group on the use of mercenaries
To the 74st session of the General Assembly 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.
The Working Group understands gender to refer to the socially constructed identities, attributes and roles of persons in relation to their sex and the social and cultural meanings attached to biological differences based on sex. These social constructs often result in hierarchical relationships between women, men and gender non-binary people and an unequal distribution of power and rights, favoring men and affecting all members of society.
Based on this understanding, the Working Group decided to examine key gender-specific considerations for the private military and security companies (PMSC) industry at the company level and in its interactions with external stakeholders in this thematic report.
On 2 April 2019, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries held a consultation on the gender dimensions of the private military and security industry. The meeting brought together academics, representatives of non-governmental organizations, industry, the United Nations, a State regulatory body, a trade union and a multi-stakeholder initiative, encompassing Africa, Europe and Latin America, as well as members of the Working Group.
Participants sought to answer questions with regard to the following issues: (1) the key intersectional gender considerations related to the impacts of operations of PMSCs in the specific contexts in which they operate, notably the differentiated impacts of PMSC actions on local communities and on wider gender relations; (2) gender-related workplace cultures and challenges, as well as issues of workplace misconduct and abuse; and (3) bringing about change in the areas of integration of gender and sexual orientation and gender identity issues and of gender equality, sensitivity, prevention and protection measures, and accountability and remedies. Read the summary of discussions.
On 27 November 2019, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries and the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) co-hosted a panel event on "Gender and PMSCs: the role of States, companies and clients addressing human rights challenges".
- Dr. Chris Kwaja, Moderator, Chair-Rapporteur, Working Group on the use of mercenaries
- Ms. Carmen Rosa De Leon Escribano, Teaching Institute for Sustainable Development (IEPADES)
- Dr. Sorcha McLeod, Member, Working Group on the use of mercenaries
- Ms. Anna Marie Burdzy, DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance
See the event flyer for more details.
In this report, the Working Group shines a gender-sensitive light on private military and security companies, to unpack associated gendered human rights risks and impacts and identify key gender considerations for those affected, particularly employees of such companies and communities in places where they operate.
The report examines the gendered impacts of the privatization of security, and highlights allegations of gender-based human rights abuses by personnel of private military and security companies, before turning to gender equality and gender-based discrimination inside such companies. It further outlines the obligations, responsibilities and roles of States, private military and security companies, and other relevant stakeholders such as corporate clients, civil society and multi-stakeholder initiatives.
The report concludes that male domination of the industry, past major abuses of gender-based discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence, and the absence of human rights-compliant legal and regulatory frameworks should compel States, private military and security companies, clients and other stakeholders to push forward a gender-transformative agenda within the industry.
In the report, the Working Group sets out recommendations addressed to States, private military and security companies, clients of those companies and others to stimulate thinking, debate and practice around the private military and security industry in order to address critical gender-related human rights issues.
Download the questionnaire:
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.