This essay, found in Criminal Justice Ethics, Volume 31, Issue 3, 2012, addresses the role of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in security governance. In this context, it offers a historical overview of some of the main developments in the evolution of private warfare and critically discusses some of the key challenges confronting the quest for holding PMSCs accountable in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian norms.
This essay, found in Criminal Justice Ethics, Volume 31, Issue 3, 2012, outlines and assesses the development of private military and security companies (PMSCs)in the light of a liberal view of (political) violence. The essay focuses on the situation in the United States, which possesses by far the most important military force in the world today, and in which the use of PMSCs is most developed. The paper has three main sections and a brief conclusion: the first section sketches the liberal view of violence and its implications for organizations dedicated to its use; the second outlines the salient characteristics of the three historically dominant forms of armies; and the third looks at the current situation in which the three forms coexist uneasily.
This article appeared in International Studies Perspectives Volume 5, Issue 2, and discusses the dramatic incursion of the private security sector into the realm of public policy. Though the legitimate use of force is presumed to be the realm of the state, a burgeoning transnational market for force now exists alongside the system of states. In this essay, Avant describes this market and argues that it poses tradeoffs to the state control of violence. Furthermore, the changes in the process of controlling violence that privatization brings with it pose tradeoffs to non-state actors as well. Rather than simply shifting influence from governments to markets and civil society, the privatization of security is likely to engender changes in each, opening the way for new institutional innovations and the intensification of international change.
This article appeared in International Organization Volume 54, Issue 1. Mercenaries went out of style in the nineteenth century. States altered the conduct of war by raising citizen armies and eschewing the use of mercenaries in practice or in law. It became common sense that armies should be staffed with citizens. Both realists and sociologists have interpreted this change as a functional response to an international demand, either strategic or normative. Realists assume states act strategically to insure their security in the system, so states choose strategies that win wars.
This article was published in International Relations Volume 21, Issue 2. In it, author Deborah Avant lays out propositions about how an increasing role for non-state actors in security may transform the conceptualization of security and the use of violence more generally. She argues that international NGOs and transnational corporations conceptualize security and how to achieve it differently than states have traditionally done and that these differences have potential consequences for which problems are addressed, as well as for whether and how violence is used in the communities where they operate.
This article appeared in Security Studies Volume 19, Issue 2. Focusing on the United States, the authors use original data to compare the impacts of using private military/security forces and military forces on attributes identified as endemic to democracies: constitutionalism, transparency, and public consent. The evidence indicates that forces raised via contract are harder to learn about and thus less transparent than military forces. Largely due to lowered transparency, Congress has a harder time exercising its constitutional role, which impedes constitutionalism. Finally, though the public is just as sensitive to the deaths of private forces as it is to military deaths, it is less likely to know about them. Thus the lack of transparency also circumvents meaningful public consent.
This article is forthcoming in Global Crime. The fields of international relations and criminology analyse security from different directions, but both have had a dominant focus on states and state agencies until recently. An important category of security actors has not been analysed so far non-violent transnational organisations. Transnational non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and transnational corporations (TNCs) are not security organisations per se, but the strategies these transnational non-state actors pursue in response to violence affect security for both themselves and the societies in which they operate. In this article, the authors argue that security at the local level is an outcome of interactions among diverse actors including transnational organisations and call for a research agenda focused on how transnational actors choose their response to insecurity and how those choices affect security governance.
This Article was published in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, 18.1 Fall / Winter 2011 edition. It argues that, though the rebirth of private actors in security activities can be seen as a threat to the sovereign state, this view overlooks how security privatization reflects contemporary transformations in governance and the extent to which private security actors are part of networks of security governance. The authors suggest that security privatization is part of a broader re-articulation of the state that reworks the distinctions between the public and the private, as well as the global and the local. The consequence has been the rise of what they term call global security assemblagescomplex hybrid structures of actors, knowledge, technologies, norms, and values that stretch across national boundaries but operate in national settings.
This article appeared in PS: Political Science and Politics Volume 40 Issue 3. When the U.S. deploys its forces around the world, an increasingly important part of its operations is no longer managed by the U.S. military, per se, but rather by what some call contractors, others call private military and security companies, and still others call mercenaries. In this essay, Avant briefly describes the private security industry and the larger global market for force that it is a part of and how the U.S. military's increasing reliance on private forces brings both benefit and risk.
This article appeared in Daedalus Volume 140, Issue 3. Contractors are deeply intertwined with the American military and U.S. foreign policy. Their relationship with the U.S. government, the public, and domestic and international law differs from that of military personnel, and these differences pose both benefits and risks. Americas use of private military and security companies can provide or enhance forces for global governance. Yet PMSCs can also be used to pursue agendas that do not have the support of American, international, or local publics. Thus far, the use of PMSCs has proved a mixed bag in terms of effectiveness, accountability, and American values. Moving forward in a way that maximizes the benefits of contractors and minimizes their risks will require careful management of the uncomfortable trade-offs these forces present.
This article was published in International Relations Volume 21, Issue 2. The past decade has witnessed a remarkable expansion and globalization of the private security sector. These developments mark the emergence of publicprivate, globallocal security networks that play increasingly important roles in global governance. In this article, the operation and impact of public/private, global/local security networks is explored in the context of security provision in Cape Town, South Africa.
This article, published in Small Wars and Insurgencies, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2013, studies private military and security companies' (PMSCs) evolving interaction with humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Unlike the general characterization of the tense relations of the two private actors, the author finds a surprising number of similarities between PMSCs and NGOs, thus enabling an outlook on prospects for future coordination.