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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

The outgoing Chairman of the Human Rights Commission hands over responsibilities to the incoming Chairman, Enrique Ballesteros, of Peru (right), who also served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries.

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UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries

In 1987, the Commission on Human Rights (the predecessor to the UN Human Rights Council) appointed a Special Rapporteur to examine the question of the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. This position was held by Mr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros (Peru) from 1987 -2004 and Ms. Shaista Shameem (Fiji) from 2004-2005.

At its 60th session in resolution 2004/5 the Commission requested the Special Rapporteur to pay particular attention to the activities of PMSCs. In 2005, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur was succeeded by the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries.

The publically-available documents of the Special Rapporteur appear below, organized chronologically, and also on the UN website.

Resolutions

Resolution of the 54th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/1998/6)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for an additional three years. The Commission also welcomes any national legislation restricting the use of mercenaries, and reiterates the call for adoption of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries. The Commission requests the Secretary-General to invite governments to propose clearer definitions of the term “mercenary.”

Resolution of the 49th General Assembly (A/RES/49/150)

Author: General Assembly
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In this resolution, the General Assembly condemns the continued use of mercenaries and urges all states to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries. The Assembly also requests the Centre on Human Rights of the Secretariat to publicize mercenary activities and examine the legal aspects of the Rapporteur's recommendations.

Resolution of the 56th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/2000/3)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights reviews the UN position on the use of mercenaries and notes the growing use of private forces throughout the world. The Commission decides to convene a workshop on the new and traditional forms of mercenary activity and report back to the Commission.

Resolution of the 50th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/1994/7)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights denounces the use of mercenaries throughout the world. The Commission encourages states to adopt the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries and to continue to cooperate against mercenary activity. The Commission requests the Special Rapporteur to make specific recommendations on measures to combat mercenary activities.

Resolution of the 51st session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/1995/5)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for an additional three years. The resolution also asks that the Special Rapporteur to seek information from governments and organizations to fulfill his mandate, and calls upon governments to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur.

Resolution of the 57th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/2001/3)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution the Commission on Human Rights reviews the UN position on the use of mercenaries and notes the growing use of mercenaries. The Commission extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for an additional three years, and recognizes the valuable contribution of the experts at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights towards a clearer legal definition of mercenary activity.

Economic and Social Council Resolution 1986/43 (E/RES/1986/43)

Author: UN ECOSOC
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This resolution condemns states—and in particular South Africa—for using mercenaries to fight national liberation movements in Africa and calls upon the Commission on Human Rights to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the subject of mercenarism. 

Resolution of the 48th General Assembly (A/RES/48/92)

Author: General Assembly
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In this resolution, the UN General Assembly notes with alarm the linkage between mercenaries and terrorism, and continues to register concern over South Africa’s participation in mercenary activities. The resolution also requests the Centre for Human Rights of the Secretariat to analyze the legal aspects of the question of mercenaries.

Resolution of the 49th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/1993/5)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights noted its concern for the continued use of mercenaries in state conflicts, particularly in Africa. The Commission also stated its appreciation for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another three years, and requests the Special Rapporteur to further study mercenary activity throughout the world and report back to the Commission on his findings.

Resolution of the 55th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/RES/1999/3)

Author: Commission on Human Rights
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In this resolution, the Commission on Human Rights reviews the UN position on the use of mercenaries and notes the growing use of private military forces. The Commission requests that states create a clear definition of mercenaries, and asks the High Commissioner on Human Rights to study and put forward recommendations for a legal definition of “mercenary.”

Resolution of the 47th General Assembly (A/RES/47/84)

Author: General Assembly
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In this resolution, the UN General Assembly denounced the use of mercenaries and urged all states to be vigilant against any mercenary activities within their territories. The resolution mentions South Africa in particular for facilitating the use of mercenaries to counter national liberation movements.

Reports

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 50th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1994/23)

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This report of the Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights analyzes mercenary activity throughout the world. Countries examined are: Angola, South Africa, Zaire, the former Yugoslavia, Armenia – Azerbaijan (the Nagorno Karabakh area), Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan. The Special Rapporteur also comments upon letters received from UN member states concerning mercenaries, and updates the Commission upon the current status of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 53rd session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1997/24)

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In this report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur summarizes the findings of his trip to South Africa. With some concern, the Special Rapporteur reiterates the definitional questions of Report (A/51/392), and affirms his views on the threat of mercenary activities to human rights and self-determination. The report also discusses the status of Executive Outcomes under international law, and calls for clarification on this issue.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 50th session of General Assembly (A/50/390)

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In this report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur provides an overview of mercenary activity worldwide, and highlights the African continent and the former Yugoslavia in particular. He discusses the definition of mercenary activity and if it applies to official missions of states that are third party to a conflict. The Special Rapporteur concludes with recommendations for states on how to prevent illegal operation of mercenaries within their territory.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 51st session of General Assembly (A/51/392)

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In this report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur summarizes mercenary activity throughout the world, focusing on South Africa and the employment of Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone. This report notes the surge in mercenaries employed by private corporations in Africa, the need for a common approach to deter and prevent mercenary activities and to transform states’ attitudes towards mercenaries and the field of mercenary activity in general. Issues with the working definition of “mercenary” are discussed.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 57th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2001/19)

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In this report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur provides an overview of global mercenary activity, highlighting the continent of Africa. The countries of Angola, Sierra Leone, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guinea-Bissau are included. The Report also discusses mercenary involvement in criminal activity, terrorism, and private security companies.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 55th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1999/11)

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In this report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur continues the dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba over possible U.S.-based mercenaries working in Cuba, as well as analysis of the situation in Sierra Leone. The report discusses the legal framework for mercenary use, and links mercenary activity to terrorism. Finally, the Special Rapporteur analyzes the continued expansion of private security companies and the lack of a regulatory framework for the operation of these companies.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 52nd session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/27)

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In this Report to the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur analyzes the state of mercenary activity throughout the world, with detailed reports on: the Islamic Republic of the Comoros, Sierra Leone, and the former Yugoslavia. The Special Rapporteur covers correspondence from states about mercenary activities within their territory, specifically a Serbia and Montenegro letter refuting charges by Croatia that Serbia supplied mercenaries to nationalist groups.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 51st session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1995/29)

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This report of the Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights analyzes the current state of mercenarism around the world. Countries examined are: Angola, South Africa, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro. The report summarizes correspondence from multiple countries, including an Indian rebuttal to Pakistan’s concern over the use of mercenaries. The Special Rapporteur concludes with recommendations to further control mercenaries and strongly condemns mercenary activities in Africa.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 54th session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1998/31)

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This report of the Special Rapporteur outlines the use of mercenaries in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Papua New Guinea. In addition, correspondence concerning mercenary activity between the United States and Cuba is discussed. Finally, the Special Rapporteur discussed the growing field of private security companies, in particular companies Executive Outcomes, MPRI and Sandline International. An addenda to the report provides the U.S. response to allegations from Cuba of America-based mercenaries operating in Cuba.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries to the 49th session of General Assembly (A/49/362)

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This report of the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly analyzes mercenary activity throughout the world. Countries examined are: Angola, South Africa, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Armenia – Azerbaijan (the Nagorno Karabakh area). Correspondence from multiple countries, including Pakistan and India are included in the report. The Special Rapporteur also comments upon letters received from UN member states concerning mercenaries, and updates the General Assembly upon the current status of the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries.