Study for the European Parliament: “The Role of Private Security Companies (PSCs) in CSDP Missions and Operations”

Cover website the role of private security companiesWhile the hiring of Private Security Companies (PSCs) such as Blackwater by the United States (US) has been the most widely reported and debated, the European Union (EU) and its member states are increasingly relying on private contractors in multilateral operations. Among others, the EU has employed private security guards to protect the EUPOL headquarters in Afghanistan, to secure the premises of the EULEX mission in Kosovo and to guard the EUPOL mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Due to the growing roles of PSCs in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations, the EU and its member states urgently need to consider the possible impact that armed and unarmed security contractors can have on missions and the achievement of mission objectives. This report demonstrates that potential negative effects range from decreased democratic accountability and governmental control to the perceptions of contractor impunity and insecurity among the civilian populations of host states. There is no catch-all solution to these problems, and for many governments the advantages of hiring private security contractors, such as the ability to fill urgent capability and personnel gaps, cost-efficiency and specialist expertise, outweigh the disadvantages. Given the current financial and personnel constraints in Europe, it is likely that the use of PSCs will further increase. It is therefore imperative to develop appropriate mechanisms to address the possible problems of such use before they occur. This report develops five specific recommendations for EU action that would help address risks associated with the increasing use of Private Military and Security Companies.

Authors: Elke Krahmann (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt – PRIF, Germany and University of Bristol, UK) and Cornelius Friesendorf (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main / Peace Research Institute Frankfurt – PRIF/HSFK, Germany)