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This thesis discusses the role and the involvement of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) in the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola. The involvement of PMSCs in the conflicts in question was fundamentally facilitated by state weakness and regime insecurity. Regimes in both countries played a crucial role in inviting foreign private military forces in the wake of rebellion against the regimes. The paper employed qualitative, explanatory and descriptive research methodology. The data gathering method utilized is secondary sources which include books, articles, official documents and other publications. The study’s main findings include: first, the involvement of PMSCs in the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola challenges (at least in the context of weak states in Africa), the traditional realist assumption in IR that the state is the exclusive actor that enjoys monopoly on legitimate use of force; second, in African conflicts in general and in the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola in particular the involvement of PMSCs is linked with the exploitation of strategic mineral resources such as diamonds, oil, coltan and others; third, though PMSCs are hired by their clients to end conflicts, the study shows that such entities in fact escalate conflicts; fourth, the study revealed that PMSCs hugely undermine state sovereignty by deploying a competitive and parallel structures of force within a single sovereign jurisdiction. It is assumed in the traditional parlance in IR and political science that conflict is a political process and thereby falls within the public sphere. However, privatization of security removes conflict from the public arena as events in Sierra Leone and Angola have shown. Thus regardless of the claim that PMSCs fill the security void in Africa where public security forces are inept, partial, or both, the involvement and the role of PMSCs in African conflicts in general and the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola in particular is a symptom of state failure in terms of provision of security to the people, protection of territory and resources. It is therefore believed that privatization of security in the form of PMSCs surrogates the state in Africa and has deleterious effect in one of the core responsibilities of the state.
The chief foundations of all states, whether new, old, or mixed, are good laws and good arms. And as there cannot be good laws where there are not good arms, I say, therefore, that the arms by which a prince defends his possessions are either his own, or else mercenaries, or auxiliaries or mixed (Machiavelli, 1952:72). The mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous, and if any one supports his state by the arms of mercenaries, he will never stand firm or sure, as they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly among enemies, they have no fear of God, and keep no faith with men (ibid.). The arrival of private military companies (PMCs) onto the international stage in the early 1990s suddenly made the question of what a mercenary was – and whether or not the world ought to be concerned – important once more (Percy, 2003).
The debate on the use of private security providers and services in Africa‟s conflicts and post-conflict situations has in the last decade grown in prominence within the broad field of security studies (Gumedze, 2009:1). This has also tremendously shaped the thinking of international lawyers as the involvement of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in African conflicts has had a significant impact on conflict resolution, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL) (ibid., 2009). As conflicts continue to be more complex in many countries around the world, the use of PMSCs has also increased. The privatization of security has now become a global phenomenon. From the beginning of the 21st century the world has witnessed an accelerated breakdown of the nation-state‟s monopoly on violence, and the emergence of marketplace purveyors of armed forces (ibid., 2009:1; Shcreier and Caparini 2005).