The regulation of mercenary and private security-related activities under South African law compared to other legislations and conventions

Neple, Pernille (2008-12)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have become increasingly important actors since the end of the Cold War. They provide a wide range of services and are therefore difficult to classify. Many view them as new front companies for mercenaries, which this thesis argues is not the case. Few states have put in place legislation to deal with the problems caused by these companies, and they are therefore generally not accountable to states. This is problematic because their services are within an area where states have traditionally had monopoly. This thesis studies the new South African legislation, the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act of 2006, which was put in place in order to ban mercenaries and regulate the services offered by the private military and security companies based in the country. By comparing it to the older South African legislation, the thesis evaluates the extent to which the new legislation has been able to close loopholes inherent in the old legislation. The new South African legislation is also compared to the international conventions which bans mercenaries. By banning these actors, South Africa is very much in line with the international community when it designed the conventions. However, PNSCs are not mercenaries. The thesis then compares the new South African legislation to the domestic regulation in place in the United States of America. It finds that despite having many of the same weaknesses as the South African legislation, it is more likely that the American regulation will be abided by than the South African. This is due to the positive relationship between the US government and American PMSCs, and the fact that the government is a major client of the companies. South Africa does not enjoy the same positive relationship with its companies. Finally, the new South African legislation is compared to the UK Green Paper of 2002, which presented options of how to deal with the companies. The ban on mercenaries put in place by the new South African legislation was discouraged in the Green Paper. The licensing regime (as in the USA) that was proposed by the Green Paper, however, is similar to the authorisation scheme established in South Africa.

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