U.S.-hired private military and security companies in armed conflict : indirect participation and its consequences
Alice S. Debarre
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Harvard national security journal, Vol. 7, issue 2, 2016, p. 437-468
As private military and security companies are increasingly hired to perform a wide variety of tasks in times of armed conflict, the importance of determining how IHL applies to their employees cannot be understated. Since the vast majority of these employees are civilians, one important legal question is whether they are directly participating in hostilities and are therefore legitimate targets. This article looks at the contractor activities authorized by U.S. law and policy and analyzes them using the narrow interpretation of direct participation in hostilities developed by the ICRC. This interpretation provides protection to most of the private military and security employees the U.S. hires, as many of their activities fall outside this narrow conception of direct participation. This article argues that using this narrow approach would provide civilian contractors with a material increase in protection on the battlefield. It also endeavors to demonstrate that the way U.S. law and policy currently limits contractor activities insufficiently protects civilian contractors.
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