The inclusion of "armed mercenary personnel" within the terms of the arms embargo imposed upon Libya in SC Resolution 1970, and further elaborated in SC Resolution 1973, although largely unnoticed, holds three significant implications. First, there is the apparent reduction of mercenary personnel from the category of combatancy to that of a method or means of warfare. This may have the subtle effect of reducing or eliminating the human dimension in any such persons. Secondly, there is an implicit departure from the notoriously restrictive definition of "mercenary" under international law. While this may have the welcomed effect of reinvigorating the stigmatising appellation and renew its potential utility such an inference may not only be subject to a semantic explanation but further obfuscate what objectionable characteristics are being targeted. Thirdly, the explicit use of the broader term ‘armed mercenary personnel’ is likely to include a significant category of contractors working for Private Military Companies (PMCs). The effect of this is not only to deny armed PMC contractors access to Libyan territory, but crucially illuminates their close proximity to the stigmatised individual mercenary, as defined under international law; the result will be to elucidate the contrived and artificial nature of the legal distinction between the traditional mercenary and the armed PMC contractor. This proximity questions the appropriateness of recent British suggestions of employing PMCs to aid Libyan rebels and may act as a yardstick by which to gauge contemporary regulation frameworks.
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