Integrity Issues Related to Military Operations

[Author of boxes 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 is Todor Tagarev]

Corruption accompanies not only the management of the defence establishment in peacetime but also the immediate preparation of forces for operational deployment, the conduct of peacekeeping missions, as well as stabilization and reconstruction operations. Of primary concern in the beginning of the twenty-first century is the prolific use of contractors, in particular the involvement of private military and security companies. Hence this chapter is dedicated to the problem of corruption related primarily to the use of contractors in operations. It also outlines good practices in increasing integrity in the use of private security and military companies in theatres of operations.

Corruption not only demoralizes peacekeepers but also reduces the credibility of national and international peace efforts. Concern about corruption in Afghanistan for example is approaching a point where it directly threatens the success of the Government of Afghanistan as well as the NATO-led mission.

At the present time, the military forces of NATO member nations cannot undertake operations of any sort, for any purpose whatsoever, either individually or in coalition exercises, without the support and active participation of “private military contractors.” This rapidly growing dependency of NATO’s militaries on the private sector has developed over the past two decades, since the end of the Cold War. This development is counter-intuitive as well as quite astonishing in its extent, inasmuch as the United Nations Convention Against Mercenaries of 1989  is commonly understood as intending to inhibit (rather than foster) the growth of private military forces and outlaw their use by UN member nations.

The first response to this apparent paradox is that the private military contractors (PMCs) now critically relied upon to support NATO coalition operations in war zones are not, strictly speaking, “mercenaries” in the technical sense. The UN convention on mercenaries itself characterizes a “mercenary” as an individual hired and employed to bear arms and to serve as a soldier for a government other than his own.

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