The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy

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As long as weak states exist the efforts to regulate the private security sector in Africa will remain a mammoth task. A closer look at the politics of weak states, and particularly at the survival tactics of the leaders of weak states, reveals the crucial issue of who invites private military forces to operate in Africa.

This statement was very important because it meant that while some African states like South Africa were busy trying to regulate and even abolish companies associated with mercenaries other African states were inviting the same mercenaries to their countries. The emergence of Lifeguard in Sierra Leone immediately after Executive Outcomes was legally challenged and closed in South Africa indicates that Executive Outcomes did not die; it metamorphosed and relocated to Sierra Leone, where it took a new name.

Sierra Leone is one example of a comprador state in that in the face of extreme state weakness, the leaders of this West African country invited Executive Outcomes to the country. The initial deployment of this private military outfit was for the purpose of securing the capital city and mineral areas that were falling into the hands of rebels.

Since the arrival of Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone, the leaders of that country have found themselves heavily dependent on shared interests with foreign businesses. This entailed the state being transformed into an agent of foreign imperatives. All of this happens as the leaders of weak states use a foreign partnership to compensate for the lack of great-power patronage Reno b It unearthed a myriad of complex links among security firms, mining houses and mining concessions Harker Sandline International, a big private security company, was involved in the conflict that pitted President Kabbah against the rebels.

It provided weapons and skills to the forces loyal to Kabbah who had been ousted by his own military in May Harker While the recent conflict — provides the immediate context for the expansion of private security provision, the use of private security has a long history in Sierra Leone. The example of Sierra Leone indicates how rulers of weak states use apparent weakness as a political resource, standing on its head the Weberian notion that state viability is proportional to its claim on a monopoly on violence Reno a Sierra Leonean leaders privatised violence and outsourced the accumulation of wealth and the disciplining of wayward politicians and social groups to reliable foreigners.

As long as weak states and their weak leaders continue to accommodate foreign financiers and fighters as an alternative security measure, it will remain very hard for Africa to speak with one voice on the issue of regulation of the private security sector. The private security sector is vital to the security of leaders of weak states who use more reliable foreign mining firms and foreign private mercenary armies to marginalise threatening local strong men. Recent years have seen growing concern over the proliferation and growth of the private security sector in Africa.

Africa was familiar with isolated colonial mercenaries who were hired by colonial regimes to fight against liberation movements. Post-Cold War Africa has awaken to the reality of highly organised, corporate type companies that provide military and police services to any entity able to pay for the services. This reality dawned in tandem with the post-Cold War liberalisation and privatisation processes.

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African states that, like any other state, had enjoyed a degree of control over the means and resources of violence are now challenged directly by the proliferation and growth of the private security sector. As a result of this development that has caught Africa napping and without a ready legal framework to deal with and regulate it, serious efforts are being made to determine the causes of this proliferation and growth as well as innovative ways to regulate it.

The present study focused on how weak states and their rulers have deliberately invited the private security sector to be part of their innovative strategies for survival and compensation for weakness. The leaders of Angola, Sierra Leone, DRC and other weak states are well known for inviting private military forces to prop up their precarious position. In the face of the reality that some African leaders rely heavily on these private military providers for their survival, the option to abolish the private security sector is ruled out.

Sabelo Gumedze noted that for any effective regulation of the private security sector, must be preceded by research to determine the extent of this sector, the impact of the privatisation of security on vulnerable groups, the advantages and disadvantages associated with the sector, possibilities of partnership between private and public security bodies, the impact of the private security sector on the African security architecture, and the extent of mercenary presence and operations in Africa. This article added the element of how weak states and their rulers invite mercenaries to Africa and how they factor in this sector in their survival tactics and strategies.

This is very important because as long as rulers of weak states regard the private security sector as a prop rather than a danger to their power they will not cooperate with efforts to regulate the sector. As long as these customers of the private security sector exist, its proliferation and growth will continue unabated. African leaders need to consider seriously how the existence of weak states constitutes a security issue in Africa, much as Westerners view poverty and underdevelopment in Africa as constituting fertile ground for terrorist recruitment.


Countries such as the US and Britain consider the weak or failing African state extremely dangerous to international peace and security. However, African leaders seem unconcerned about weak states as a direct enticement to the entry, proliferation and growth of the private security sector in Africa.

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The Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of 12 August provides an exhaustive definition of a mercenary. Its definition contains six criteria: a mercenary is any person who a is specifically recruited locally or abroad to fight in an armed conflict; b does, in fact, take direct part in the hostilities; c is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by desire for private gain and, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that party; d is neither a national of a party to conflict nor a resident of a territory controlled by a party to the conflict; e is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and f has not been sent by a state which is not a party to conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

As Sierra Leone has reconstituted itself and is on the road to recovery from conflict, it has since put in place legislation aimed at regulating the operations of the private security sector. Abrahamsen, R Alternatives , 55— Abrahamsen, R and Williams, W C Country report: Sierra Leone: the globalisation of private security. Arnold, G Mercenaries: the scourge of the Third World. Hampshire: Macmillan. Ashley, R The geopolitics of geopolitical space: toward a critical social theory of international politics.

Alternatives , 48—63 Ashley, R Untying the sovereign state: a double reading of anarchy problematique. An empirical profile of weak states in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ayoob, M Third World security predicament: state making, regional conflict and the international system. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Biersteker, T and Weber, C eds State sovereignty as social construct. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Why weak states persist: empirical and juridical statehood in the new millennium. People, states and fear: an agenda for international security studies in the post-Cold War era. Security: a new framework for analysis. Chabal, P and Daloz, J-P Africa works: disorder as political instrument.


London: James Currey. Chazan, N, R. Mortimer, J. Ravenhill and D. Politics and society in contemporary Africa. Cilliers, J and Mason, P eds Peace, profit and plunder: the privatisation of security in war-torn African societies. Pretoria: Institute for Strategic Studies. Clapham, C S Africa and the international system: the politics of state survival.

Cambridge Studies in International Relations No. Closson, S R The nexus of the weak state and international security: it all depends on the location of sovereignty. Creveld, M The transformation of war. New York: Westview. Dia, M Washington: Word Bank.

Doyle, M Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Englebert, P The contemporary African state: neither African nor state. Third World Quarterly , 18 4 — Fukuyama, F State-building: governance and world order in the 21st century. Garfinkle, A A conversation with Condoleezza Rice.

American Interest , 1 1 — DAAF backgrounder: private military companies. Geneva: DCAF. Gumedze, S Institute for Security Studies Paper Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies. Hammer, A et al eds Harare: Weaver. Harker, B J Private power, public insecurity: the growing reality of security for profit. The Ploughshares Monitor, 19 3 :1—5. Holmqvist, C Private security companies: the case for regulation.

The state, war, and the state of war. In the past years, Western governments have increasingly relied on private military contractors in Somalia. New York Times. The South African PMSC Sterling Corporate Services , which the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland contracted to train a paramilitary maritime force to fight pirates in the Horn of Africa, has been sharply criticized by the UN for its systematic violations of UN arms embargoes and potential implication in cases of human rights violations.

Independent Online. In the London Olympics, the UK plans to mobilize thousands of troops and private security forces, install surveillance cameras, and fund surveillance drones. These efforts prioritize the interests of corporate sponsors, including McDonalds, British Petroleum, and Dow Chemical. On July 28, , Londoners plan to gather and protest against the corporate atmosphere surrounding the upcoming Olympic games.

The Nation. There will be as many as 48, security forces in London during the Summer Olympics. These forces will be armed with surface-to-air missiles, sonic weapons, surveillance drones, attack dogs, an eleven-mile electric fence, facial-recognition CCTV systems, and other high-tech security apparatuses.

EU Observer. There has been little public awareness about this contract, and critics are worried about the lack of public consultation in the matter. But critics who have analyzed the potential contract argue that the contract privatizes some core elements of policing, which distances police from the public citizens they are supposed to serve. Private security companies are selling their services to downtown businesses in preparation for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The city expects 50, visitors, and police expect 15, protestors. Private military companies working in the area argue that protests can be like hurricanes, and both require insurance for those exposed. But fueling a private security machine that advertises fear is not the best way to deal with protestors. Tampa Bay Times. Cash-starved state governments are laying off public workers and selling off public assets, including correctional facilities with prisoners inside while private security companies, like Corrections Corporations of America CCA and G4S are profiting immensely from them.

This article examines the role of private security companies in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation trying to secure its regional position against India and Afghanistan. It has become dependent on US money, and has transformed into a quasi-police state backed by private military companies. Threats of death have deterred journalists in Pakistan from reporting on this troubling collusion. G4S is a private military and security company PMSC that employs senior politicians and diplomats to lobby for contracts with the UK government.

Failed state

The UK outsources 1 billion dollars a year to G4S for work in the public sphere, such as guarding prisons, escorting refugees, and general policing. In addition to expanding private prisons, UK has contracted private security companies to expand private police functions and take over asylum-seeker housing. But research shows that private prisons, detention centers, and asylum market services are not cheaper than public ones.

This al Jazeera article describes Stratfor as an amateur intelligence firm, made up of low to mid-level intelligence analysts who were not good enough for the CIA. But Stratfor was invaluable for the US government to continue its overextended military actions abroad. Local activists in South Yorkshire petitioned their city council against G4S takeover of asylum-seeker housing. In , there were complaints and 48 claims of assault against G4S related to its work in housing and immigration.

Asylum seekers who were familiar with G4S prison security guards compared the privatization of humanitarian housing to the creation of more detention facilities. Endless war has taken its toll on US soldiers. Rates of suicide, crime, drug abuse, desertion, and sexual violence have increased on US military bases. To address the problem, the US has corporatized its war machine. Private military and security contractors are hired to replace citizen armies with low morale. Drones are greeted as if they were the sleekest iPhones on the market. Corporate participation sidelines the US public from engagement in military affairs, while the US continues to overextend its influence, and all of this for a few alleged insurgents, scattered around the globe.

The United States and other western countries have attracted attention in recent years for their increasing reliance on private security firms. The demand for private security has brought about an expansion in the private security industry, most notably in western countries. However, as Chinese firms become more economically involved in unstable regions, a private security industry is emerging in China.

As China becomes more economically involved with the global south, some worry that the potentially dangerous operations of private security firms may cause it to become militarily involved as well. Corporate investors are treating post-earthquake Haiti like a Monopoly game, played with US taxpayer dollars. While the US government funds much of these investments thanks to corporate lobbyists , there is little transparency to where the money goes once it enters corporate pockets. Haitians must suffer the long-term outcomes of what unaccountable foreign corporations build, destroy, or steal in their neighborhoods.

The WIP. Unmanned drones crash quite often, causing damage and injury in the crash site. Private military companies do not have diplomatic agreements like nations do, and if their unmanned drones are discovered, accountability may become muddled. Iraqi officials, however, argue that drone operations disrespect Iraqi sovereignty. Not surprisingly, some Iraqi citizens do not differentiate between surveillance drones and weapon drones, which have destroyed villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan under the pretext of pursuing terrorists.

NY Times. There, she exposed a sex trafficking scandal involving her colleagues and the sexual abuse of teenage Bosnian girls. They informed trafickers for when UN raids would occur and for the whereabouts of escaped girls. DynCorps fired Bolkavac for pressing the issue while the sex offenders went unprosecuted. Her story was made into a movie, The Whistleblower In , the US sold weapons to 62 countries from Afghanistan to Yemen. Few senators opposed the deal because many private weapons-makers provide jobs in their districts, as well as donations to their campaigns.

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The Defense Base Act is a US law that covers private contractors who are injured on military bases overseas. Lawyers also cite the Defense Base Act to protect private military firms from lawsuits by their workers. Lawsuits range from sexual harassment to liability for willful misconduct. For example, when the families of seven dead drivers sued KBR for sending the drivers into an Iraqi battle zone knowing that they would be injured, lawyers protected KBR under the Defense Base Act.

In this article, David Isenberg examines the lucrative partnership between lawyers and private military companies. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia argues that private military contractors are taking away resources from the US army. Since , over half of the US military budget was spent on contractors, a military budget larger than the next 15 most expensive military budgets combined.

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Each contractor makes around three times as much as a US soldier. Manchin believes that investing in the National Guard, for example, would be a more effective way to use US tax dollars than hiring contractors to do the same work. Charleston Gazette. The US State Department has awarded a contract to the contentious private military and security company Dyncorp International to train the military in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For decades, private military contractors have been active in African countries, and their involvement has included everything from bringing down governments and fighting rebels to natural resource extraction and illegal involvement in arms trade.

Private firms acting on behalf of the US government are also surrounded by controversy due to lack of regulation and accountability. The war industry, which lobbies for ever-increasing military spending, warns that cuts in funding will sacrifice jobs. The use of Private Military and Security Companies in failed states and conflict regions such as Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan has been widely reported.

But the use of private security personnel in order to protect private wealth is also increasing in the US. Personnel have been used to protect second homes and yachts, for example. The author of this article contends that inequality is a recipe for insecurity, creating incentives for the wealthy to purchase private security services.

Data from the US Department of Commerce and Internal Revenue Service indicate that income inequality has been increasing in the US since the s, whereas it had been declining during the mid 20 th century.

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  4. In , the US had one of the highest levels of income inequality. The proportion of the US intelligence budget spent on private contractors could actually reach up to 70 per cent. Activities outsourced to the private sector now encompass electronic surveillance, rendition, interrogation, and strategic analysis.

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    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy
    The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy The Globalization of Security: State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy

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