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The Privatisation of Military Force and the Governing Rules of the International System

James Pattison
University of Manchester
James Pattison
University of Manchester
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper considers the effects of the commoditisation of military provision and the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) on the prevailing norms of the international system. It defends the importance of public use of force, the central rationales of which, I claim, are threatened by private force. This is largely because the privatisation of military force leads to a proliferation in militarily capable actors, rendering it more difficult to maintain the effective regulation of warfare. Section I argues that the public use of force is important in the development and maintenance of an effective set of jus ad bellum norms to govern when the use of force may be deployed and, in short, to limit the number of wars that will be waged. Section II argues that the public use of force is necessary to maintain an effective jus in bello regime to limit war’s destructiveness. Section III considers what Thomas Franck calls the ‘jurying’ function of states and other agents to make a public judgement on the use of force that constrains international actors. I argue that the rise in the use of PMSCs makes this jurying function (i) harder to achieve (because of the opaqueness of the industry) and (ii) less influential (because PMSCs are more concerned with their reputations amongst potential employers than their perceived legitimacy in the international community). The result is that the constraining power of international opinion is weaker for PMSCs, exacerbating the problems identified in Sections I and II.