Ian Murphy


This thesis analyses critically the hypothesis that Private Military Companies (PMCs) are a viable option for direct involvement in UN peacekeeping missions in African states. The involvement of PMCs in the affairs of states is a controversial and divisive issue, but since the end of the Cold War, they have become increasingly involved in the security structures of African states, and in post-conflict reform of such structures. They have also become involved in tasks related to commercial activities central to the political economies of African states. Indeed, Africa was the theatre in which PMCs evolved from an opportunist phenomenon that emerged in response to rapid change in the security situation, to become part of the emerging post-Cold War political economy. In the 1990s, PMCs undertook operations in Angola and Sierra Leone that brought about situations where warring factions were compelled to negotiate settlements. While the response of the international community was predominantly one of condemnation of their involvement, others pointed out that operations conducted by PMCs had been remarkably swift and inexpensive in bringing violent conflict to an end, in contrast to those conducted by the UN in African states. PMCs’ involvement in peacekeeping operations is becoming increasingly relevant; they have been involved in every major UN peacekeeping mission since 1990, and have carried out tasks spanning a wide range of UN functions. In 1995, Christopher Bellamy speculated that the UN might augment their numbers with private soldiers. While this was dismissed at the time, it is a concept that continues to resurface when the UN has difficulty finding sufficient adequately trained troops for its peacekeeping missions. This thesis investigates the hypothesis that PMCs are a viable option, in practical, political, legal, economic and moral terms, for involvement in such missions.

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