Contracting Insecurity

Private military and security companies and the future of the United Nations

The UN is increasingly relying on private military and security companies (PMSCs) for its peacekeeping and political missions as well as its humanitarian and development activities. In addition to armed and unarmed private security, the UN uses PMSCs for logistical support, security training and risk assessment, among other services.

Civil society organizations, member states, UN staff and the UN’s own Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries have highlighted the challenges raised by the organization’s growing reliance on PMSCs. A 2012 pathbreaking report by Global Policy Forum and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung revealed that the UN had no process to vet these companies and that the organization had failed to consider the political impact, side-effects and potential risks of PMSC use. 

This report provides an update on UN practices and recent developments within the organization. As the UN continues to outsource its security to private firms, it has taken steps to increase transparency and accountability around the selection and hiring of PMSCs. However, these measures have often remained technical and failed to address tough questions: why does the UN need more protection, and do PMSCs really contribute to increasing security? The report calls on the UN, member states, and civil society to adopt a more ambitious and radical approach to PMSCs.

By Lou Pingeot

Published by: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office and Global Policy Forum

Bonn/ New York, February 2014

ISBN: 978-3-943126-13-6