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Die Bindung privater Militär- und Sicherheitsfirmen an das humanitäre Völkerrecht unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Dokuments von Montreux

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Private military and security companies (PMSCs) play an ever-increasing role in modern-day armed conflicts. In the last years, however, there have been many incidents in which the personnel of PMSCs did not even respect the basic principles of humanitarian law. One of the most alarming examples was the shooting at Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007 where 17 Iraqi civilians were killed and 24 seriously injured when a Blackwater Personal Security Detail opened fire. The international law system is thus facing a new and challenging problem: What steps can be taken to ensure that PMSCs respect international humanitarian law? As PMSCs are private companies and, therefore, no subjects of public international law, they are not directly bound by the rules of humanitarian law.

Currently, there exist two different measures to ensure that PMSCs respect international humanitarian law: self-regulatory norms of PMSCs, and rules adopted by States and international organizations. There are, however, gaps with regard to both solutions: Self-regulatory norms of PMSCs are not legally binding, and most of them do not refer to humanitarian law as mandatory. Rules adopted by States and international organizations are legally binding, but they are rare and diverse and thus do not constitute a coherent legal system. The best solution would be to adopt a new worldwide treaty on PMSCs. But States are not yet ready to accept such a legally binding instrument.

The Document of Montreux of September 2008 offers a new solution. It recalls existing international legal obligations of States regarding PMSCs (Part I), and it contains a set of over 70 good practices designed to assist States in complying with these obligations (Part II). The aim of the legally non-binding document is to ensure that States adopt similar national legislation relevant to PMSCs. The companies shall thus not be bound by humanitarian law directly, but by domestic law containing identical rules of humanitarian law. Since the document has been adopted by most of the contracting, territorial or home States of PMSCs, it can be considered as a new, pragmatic way of dealing with this challenging problem of the international law system.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Archiv des Völkerrechts (Archive of Public International Law - AVR) has been founded as a quarterly journal in 1948. With its scientific papers, reports and book reviews, the journal covers the full spectrum of developments in public international law.

    Das Archiv des Völkerrechts ist eine im Jahre 1948 gegründete Vierteljahresschrift. In Abhandlungen, Berichten und Buchbesprechungen behandelt sie die Entwicklung des internationalen Rechts in seiner ganzen Breite. Das AVR ist ein Forum der deutschsprachigen Völkerrechtswissenschaft und sucht den internationalen Dialog des Faches.

    Die Beiträge reflektieren dogmatische und theoretische Grundfragen des Völkerrechts ebenso wie die Entwicklung der internationalen Rechtsprechung. Die behandelten Rechtsgebiete reichen vom überlieferten Kernbestand des zwischenstaatlichen Völkerrechts und des Rechts der bewaffneten Konflikte über das Recht internationaler Organisationen, die Menschenrechte, das Umweltvölkerrecht und Welthandelsrecht bis hin zu Fragen des internationalen Verwaltungsrechts.

    Im Mittelpunkt standen in der jüngsten Zeit neben Beiträgen zu aktuellen völkerrechtlichen Konflikten insbesondere die Diskussion um die wechselseitige Durchdringung partikularer und universeller Rechtsordnungen und die Entstehung einer materialen völkerrechtlichen Prinzipienordnung.Das AVR erscheint vierteljährlich und veröffentlicht Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache.

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