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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From mercenaries to 'private military companies': the collapse of the African State and the outsourcing of State security
Author:Botha, ChristoISNI
Periodical:South African Yearbook of International Law
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
South Africa
Subjects:State collapse
Abstract:As a result of a lack of national sovereignty, many governments in Africa have lost their monopoly on coercive power. To stay in power, they are 'outsourcing' security mechanisms such as palace guards, security advisers, military training staff, combat pilots and telecommunications experts. War is being privatized. The history of mercenaries runs from the pre-nation-State era of armies for hire through decolonization and the so-called 'dogs of war' to the contemporary phase involving private military companies. After the Cold War, the failing African States were marginalized. The resulting vacuum was filled by warlords, international companies providing their own security, organized crime syndicates, and private military companies. South Africa's Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act 15 of 1998 prohibits mercenary activity on the part of South African citizens and from within South Africa. Various instruments of public international law condemn and outlaw recruitment and employment of mercenaries, but the principles in such instruments are not watertight. The definition of mercenaries will always be problematic. Ignoring the privatization of State security within the 'failing State' is not the answer. More laws would drive private security companies further underground. One possibility is to employ them in peace enforcing and peacekeeping. But this solution may also be seen as the power projections of the big powers. In the end, the modern corporate armies in Africa cannot merely be wished away. Ref.