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War on Want - campaign on mercenaries

About the campaign

War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation. They campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.
There are currently tens of thousands of mercenaries working for private military and security companies (PMSCs). PMSCs are now the second largest occupying force in Iraq behind the US. UK companies are some of the biggest players in the industry yet they remain unregulated and unaccountable, leaving open the potential for human rights violations.
In 2002 the UK government acknowledged the problems over private armies in a green paper which listed options for regulation. In its response to the paper later that year, the Commons foreign affairs committee recommended that "private companies are expressly prohibited from direct participation in armed combat operations, and that firearms should only be carried... by company employees for purposes of training or self-defence". The committee also proposed that the government consider "a complete ban on recruitment for such activities of United Kingdom citizens by overseas-based or offshore PMCs", while remaining activities be subject to licence.
But since then the British government has failed to move towards regulation despite the United Nations, the British parliament and the industry itself calling on it to take decisive action.


War on Want calls on the UK government to move towards legislation to control the PMSC sector as an urgent priority. Self-regulation by the industry is not an option. Legislation must outlaw PMSC involvement in all forms of direct combat and combat support, as understood in their widest possible senses. In other words the government should outlaw private military and security companies from operating in conflict zones such as Iraq.


There have been some direct actions against companies who provide private security. Also there have been produced a few resources, reports and news article on the issue of corporate mercenaries, which can be found on the War on Want website (


The British government has come under increased pressure to introduce legislation on private military companies operating overseas, including a ban on their use in combat. The Labour government has refused to introduce any form of regulation, despite recognising the problem in its 2002 Green Paper on the industry. The United Nations working group on mercenaries has this month renewed its call for the UK government to introduce legislation to regulate the private military sector and to guard against the 'inherent dangers' of privatising the use of violence in war zones.

The campaign today...

The organisation War on Want is still very active. They are organising public events and having interesting news on their website. But unfortunately this particular campaign on Corporations and Conflict- Corporate Mercenaries seems to be very quiet at the moment. There is very little information on current action against corporate mercenaries from this campaign.

List of Companies against which they are working:

This campaign was Campaign of the Month in the issue of Warpofiteers' News of June 2008, Nr. 13

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