The Institute For Security Studies in South Africa is organizing a study of the private security industry, particularly as it operates in the Congo DRC, Uganda, and South Africa.
The past decade has seen rapid growth in the private security industry, both in Africa and globally. Private security companies have diversified their activities to include military advice and training, arms procurement, intelligence gathering, logistical and medical support and in limited instances, combat and operational support.
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Understandably, the presence of these organisations in Africa has raised questions related to the accountability and democratic oversight of this industry, the extent to which governments, the UN and relief agencies are outsourcing key ‘state’ functions and the influence that these companies gain in the process.
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Mercenarism, the darker side of the private military sector, continues to be a threat to stability on the African continent as was illustrated recently.__. . . The connections of certain individuals to more ‘legitimate’ private security activities in Africa have blurred the lines between this and the blatantly illegal activities associated with the private security sector.
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The rapid growth of private security in Africa has outpaced the regulation of the industry. With this in mind the ISS through the Defence Sector Programme (DSP) has initiated a project on “The Regulation of the Private Security Sector in Africa”.__ . . . the project seeks to further support the effective regulation of the growing private security sector in Africa towards the establishment of a consistent and logical regulatory framework for national, sub-regional and regional legislation and protocols.
There are also a number of relevant documents linked and listed at the end of the announcement.
As to the industry itself, there was a recent conference in Nairobi, reported by IRIN Africa:
During a three-day conference in Nairobi that brought together UN agencies, NGOs, officials of numerous governments and several private sector companies, PMCs said they had much to offer in terms of logistics, personnel and expertise.
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However, they have recently suffered a barrage of bad publicity and criticism from human rights organisations.
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According to a report prepared for (US Secretary of State) Rice by a US diplomat, PMCs in Iraq currently “operate in an overall environment that is chaotic, unsupervised, deficient in oversight and accountability, and poorly coordinated”.
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That the private [security] sector is here to stay is beyond question and because it poses a major concern to Africa, it must be controlled and regulated,” a senior researcher with the South African-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and human rights lawyer, Sabelo Gumedz, said.
The ISS is researching the role of PMCs in South Africa, Uganda and DRC with a view to establishing a continent-wide regulatory framework.
You can see my article on the private security industry in Africa over at the African Loft: The Rising Mercenary Industry and AFRICOM.