Archive for category United Nations

Industry Talk: The UN Talks Shop About Their Use Of PMSC’s

Last year in July, I wrote about this debate that the UN was having about it’s use of PMSC’s, now and into the future. This is the final review panel about this debate, and it was interesting to hear the current view point of the UN.

One of the things that came up that I thought was interesting, is that the UN still does not know how many contractors it uses, either for guard work or for logistics. So I think they should at least dedicate some time and effort towards getting a firm grasp on this. Perhaps an online database that gives a transparent view of everyone they are using, both past and present. They could also add to that database if that company was fired or not, or what they thought of their performance? Anything to add to the history of the use of contractors.

They also talked in great length about codes of conduct and other initiatives to get companies to self-regulate. My thoughts are that if the UN actually published violations of these codes as a record for the public, kind of like what POGO does with companies in the US, then that would keep the world and the UN better informed as to the true track records of companies. That kind of history and track record is essential information if you want to truly find the best value company for the money. Companies would also fight to not be on that list, and especially if it impacted bidding.

The other surprising thing is that they couldn’t list how much money was spent on contractors, past or present. So a database should absolutely list those costs so that member donors to the UN can see exactly how their money is being spent. Also, other companies can see how much a service costs, and find out if they can provide that service cheaper or at least get a feel for what it would take to spin up a contract. So a UN contractor database would be an excellent investment, if the UN is interested in transparency and effectively using this industry.

I was also taken aback when the panel was asked around the 28:30 point of this video, what they thought about the lack of accountability for member nation troops that continue to violate human rights during peace keeping operations. No one wanted to take that question and it was left ‘wide’ open. I thought the silence said everything…

There was also numerous questions about the definition of mercenary and how that applied to PMSC’s. Or how their group was called the UN Working Group On The Use of Mercenaries, and yet they were tasked with evaluating PMSC’s that were not mercenaries by definition. I think the choice of group title is somewhat counterproductive for such a panel, if they wanted to be perceived as objective in their research of this industry. With that said, the group at least tried to differentiate between mercenaries and PMSC’s.

If the video below does not show up, here is a link to the video. It is about 50 minutes long and worth your time. The panel’s final report should be coming out sometime this year, and I will post it when it surfaces. -Matt

 

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United Nations: Working Group To Debate UN Use Of PMSC’s

“Rwanda was a horrific UN failure where lives were equated to dollars. Doug’s comments aren’t entirely correct: EO wasn’t “between assignments” nor were we on our way to New York. The UN turned it down because we were “too expensive” – even though we were several hundred million dollars cheaper than they were.” -Eeben Barlow on the UN approaching Executive Outcomes to end the Rwandan Genocide

This should be interesting to watch. Although it would have been nice to see a more varied panel that included some actual CEO’s of companies whom have actually contracted with the UN to provide security. Or at least were approached by the UN to provide services….

The other point to bring up is an effort within the UN to establish an ‘international regulatory framework on PMSC’s’. Here is a video of what they are up to. I imagine we will hear more about this effort in the discussion.

For some interesting discussion and background on the UN’s use of PMSC’s, I have covered the subject in prior posts here. Also, just type in Google Search, ‘UN, Feral Jundi’ or ‘United Nations, Feral Jundi’ for more posts about the UN and PMSC’s.

Also,  check out the Kings Of War blog and their discussion on the UN’s use of PMSC’s here. (check out the comments by Doug Brooks, David Isenberg, myself and others)

Eeben Barlow also has much to add to the discussion about the UN and PMSC’s here and here. His company, Executive Outcomes, was actually approached by the UN to end the Rwandan Genocide. I wonder if the panel will even delve into this history? -Matt

 

Mass grave skulls from Rwandan Genocide.

 

Expert group on mercenaries debates use of private military and security companies by the United Nations
26 July 2013
The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will discuss the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in UN peace and humanitarian operations in the field.
The panel discussion will take place on 31 July 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York, as part of a special year-long study on the use PMSCs by the UN bodies worldwide, which the expert group will present to the UN General Assembly in 2014.
“As a large consumer of security services, the UN has the opportunity to positively influence the standards and behaviour of the industry to comply with international human rights norms and support the implementation of the UN Charter,” said Anton Katz, who currently heads the expert group charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the activities of companies providing security and consultancy services on the international market.
“The UN should serve as a model for world Governments and other organizations in its use of private military and security companies,” the expert stressed. “Without proper standards and oversight, the outsourcing of security functions by the UN to private companies could have a negative effect on the effectiveness and image of the UN in the field.”
The five-strong expert body, which has drafted a possible international convention on private military and security companies, has already provided an overview of the UN policy regarding the use of PMSCs in a previous report* to the UN General Assembly in 2010.
The event will feature two panels, focusing on the use of armed security services by the UN and the use of PMSCs in peace operations. Details of the event, including the panelists, are available here.
The panel discussions will be also broadcasted live at the UN web TV.
The Working Group will hold a press conference at 13:30 on 1 August 2013 at briefing room S-237, the UN Headquarters.
The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Mr. Anton Katz (Chair-Rapporteur, South Africa), Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan), Ms. Patricia Arias (Chile), Ms. El¿bieta Karska (Poland) and Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary).

Learn more, log on here.
(*) Check the full report to the UN General Assembly here.
Read the Working Group’s draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies here.
For more information and media requests please contact: ?In New York: Nenad Vasiæ (+1 212 963 5998 / vasic@un.org) ?In Geneva: Natacha Foucard (+41 22 917 9458 / nfoucard@ohchr.org) or Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298 / jtadaki@ohchr.org) or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:?Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
Press release here.

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Industry Talk: A Closer Look At The Aid Industry And Their Current And Future Use Of PMSC’s

According to the report, incomplete U.N. data shows a steady rise in the number of security contracts from 2006-2007, with the value increasing from $44 million in 2009 to $76 million in 2010, the latest data available.
The majority of contracts in 2010 – $30 million worth – were for activities by the U.N. Development Program followed by $18.5 million for U.N. peacekeeping operations and $12.2 million for U.N. refugee activities, it said.
The report said the overall value of contracts is likely to be considerably higher because data from some U.N. bodies, like the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, is not included or incomplete.

In this post I wanted to post some statistics of interest to our industry that will help companies looking for an entry into this market. Or at least it will help companies in their research, and identifying possible niches.

Awhile back I posted a publication that discussed the UN’s increasing reliance on private security. I wanted to expand on that post a little more and identify some key statistics that report did not have, that I was able to grab elsewhere, that will further help to educate companies out there wanting to get into this sector of security.

The first statistic is this one. It came from the report called ‘Aid Worker Security Report: Spotlight on security for national aid workers: Issues and perspectives (August 2011)‘ This report gives a quick run down as to the types of attacks and how many deaths there have been over the years. 2008 was the peak of deaths and was certainly a wake up call for this industry.

 

But these deaths also show the drive and incentive that these aid groups have when it comes to getting into these troubled spots of the world. That despite these deaths and incidents, they are still getting in there. They are driven by their donors, and if they do not produce results, then they will see a decrease in donations. Competitors in this market will get more donations if they are perceived as being ‘more effective’ in helping people.

We are also talking about millions of dollars worth of donations, and large aid organizations that have tons of folks and facilities to support with those donations. So showing worth and an ability to follow through with aid is vital if they want to continue getting donations.

Plus, groups like Aid Watchers or or Charity Watch help to further gauge the effectiveness of organizations, which help to further guide donations. These donations are also highly dependent on people having the disposable income to actually give to these causes. You can see how finicky this process can be during a downward trend in the economies of countries world wide.

There is also a lot of competition from smaller aid groups or individuals, seeking to fund their projects. In this type of competitive market for your donation, it is easy to understand why they would take the risk of sending folks into harms way to show they are more capable than the other guy.

What is also at issue is the perception of aid groups in these countries. As this applies to our industry, there is the perception that using armed security sends a negative image to the local populations. In the eyes of these clients, the security industry has an image problem.

Which brings up the next statistic that I thought was interesting. What types of security services are these aid groups willing to contract, and who are they contracting with? Well, here is one graph I found from Providing Aid in Insecure Environments: Trends in violence against aid workers and the operational response (2009 Update) HPG Policy Briefs 34, April 2009.

 

With this graph you can see this high dependency on ‘unarmed local guards’.  Which is a nice idea, but realistically in a war zone or troubled spot, unarmed guards is a horrible idea. And yet aid groups continue to depend upon this type of protection.

But for training/consulting/managing/risk assessment, international PMSC’s are still king. Which is not surprising, and I only think this will increase as aid groups continue to look at entering or holding their position in these hot zones.

Finally, I wanted to go back to the UN’s use of private security and it’s significance. The UN is a business of sorts as well. They have to show to the member countries that they are effective. If they are not able to operate in these countries and keep the peace, then they will not be able justify it’s cost and existence. So for operations that are not direct peace keeping missions, but still place staff in war zones or troubled spots, they must do all they can to hold in place and not be chased out because of incidents.

There has also been a change in philosophy at the UN, which was mentioned in this report I posted.

Change of Security Philosophy (at the UN)
During the past decade, the UN has redefined its security strategy, recognizing that the organization could no lon- ger rely on its own reputation to secure it from harm. As one high official put it, the UN can no longer count on the “strong assumption that the UN flag would protect people, protect the mission.” At the same time, the UN decided to keep a presence in dangerous conflict situations where it previously would have withdrawn. This new dual posture led the organization to rely increasingly on forceful protection measures.
The Secretary General spoke of this new approach in his 2010 report on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel. He noted that the UN was going through a “fundamental shift in mindset.” Henceforth, the organization would not be thinking about “when to leave,” but rather about “how to stay.” The UN now proposes to stay in the field even when insecurity reaches a very dangerous threshold. The Secretary General’s report, reflecting the UN’s general posture, focuses on how to “mitigate” risk, rather than considering the broader context, such as why the UN flag no longer protects and whether the UN should be present in a politically controversial role in high-risk conflict zones.
Risk outsourcing is a rarely acknowledged aspect of this security philosophy. Private contractors reduce the profile of UN-related casualties and limit the legal responsibility for damages that security operations may cause. This is similar to the posture of governments, which lessen wartime casualties among their own forces through the use of PMSCs, and thus avoid critical public pressure on the waging of war. UN officials have acknowledged in private that in situations where casualties cannot be avoided, it is better to hire contractors than to put UN staff in danger. As is the case for governments, UN use of PMSCs serves as a means to prevent public criticism of larger security policies.

Hiring the services of a PMSC can be easier as well, and can have better results than depending upon poorly trained local forces and security markets. This industry has gained experience and capability, and especially after ten plus years of war time contracting.

I also believe that the UN’s use of PMSC’s will only help private aid groups to ‘see the light’ when it comes to using security to accomplish their goals. Much like with the whole ‘armed guards on boats’ theme that I keep pounding away at in maritime security posts, I think a similar theme could be promoted for aid groups. Especially if you can associate armed security with a reduction in deaths and kidnappings, and an increase in effectiveness for all aid groups. Or if the perception of the security industry can be changed, and the image of this industry better fits into what these aid groups need.

Also, you could compare this to a ‘dance’ between our two industries. This is like a dance between two new partners with two different ideas of what good dancing is all about. As we work together in these dangerous troubled spots in the world, I believe the partnerships will only improve and get synchronized. But that only happens if our group and their groups strive to understand one another, and apply kaizen to that relationship. So hopefully this post has contributed to that understanding.

It’s a dangerous world out there, and the security industry is ready and willing to meet those challenges. -Matt

 

Private funding in humanitarian aid: is this trend here to stay?
By Velina Stoianova

13 April 2012.
Major humanitarian crises in the past decade have prompted unprecedented amounts of private donations: the tsunami that caused widespread devastation across the Indian Ocean in December 2004 saw US$3.9 billion raised in private aid; the response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti generated at least US$1.2 billion in contributions from the general public; US$450 million was channelled in response to the 2010 floods in Pakistan; and at least US$578 million went to Japan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. While global private support to specific large-scale emergencies is relatively easy to gauge, it remains unclear how much private money overall is out there in any given year.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jobs: Close Protection Officer (CP Team Leader), Lebanon

     Another interesting location for work. Although in this case, this is a UN job, so job seeker beware. lol I am not the recruiter or POC for this job, and please apply through the UN’s Galaxy e-staffing system if interested. Good luck and let me know how it goes if you get the job. -Matt

Personal Protection Officer (CP Team Leader), FS-6

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS:  21 Nov 2010

DATE OF ISSUANCE:  22 Oct 2010

ORGANIZATIONAL UNIT:  Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon

DUTY STATION:  Beirut

VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT NUMBER:  10-SEC-UNSCOL-424948-R-BEIRUT

Remuneration

Depending on professional background, experience and family situation, a competitive compensation and benefits package is offered.

United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

Responsibilities

Under the supervision of the Chief Security Officer (CSO), the incumbent performs the following duties: Manages the Personal Protection Unit (PPU) in accordance with UN personal protection guidance; As the Deputy Chief Security Officer (D/CSO), performs the duties of the CSO during absences from mission area; Gathers and analyses information and prepares threat and risk assessments in cooperation with DSS/CSA; Plans, exercises and reviews courses of action in conjunction with the assessed threat; Coordinates and executes operational procedures and practices; Plans and conducts regular ongoing training exercises and rehearsal for the PPU; Establishes and deploys close / personal protection team tactically trained to meet the assessed threat; Conducts liaison with relevant civilian police, military, law enforcement officials, close / personal protection teams and others as necessary; Coordinates with other mission security and support services; Prepares regular operational reports with analysis and recommendations; Updates the CSO on all movements and unusual incidents involving the principal; Establishes clear lines of authority between members of PPU; Ensures effective and efficient security coverage for the private office and personal residence of the Head of Mission; Determines equipment, facility and supply needs base on operational requirements. Assesses the performance of the Personal Protection Unit; Monitors, reviews and assesses the performance of individual team members and provide guidance as required; Establishes a rotational schedule for PPU team members, in and out of the unit.

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Industry Talk: International Stability Operations Association–IPOA’s New Name

     Interesting change here. Also, ISOA has some exciting stuff coming up in the near future in regards to the Code of Conduct. But like the UN Global Compact, what will be the legal mechanisms or disciplinary mechanisms that will insure it has teeth and everyone abides by it? How does it interact with SOFAs, and the various constitutions and legal mechanisms throughout the world?

     The proof of concept to me is what would happen to a contract guard or even employee of a company, if they committed a crime in a war zone of another country? How that code of conduct addresses this type of circumstance, as well as the other complex circumstances we have come up over the last nine or so years, is what I am interested in.

     It is also important to address what the disciplinary measures will be when companies–both contracted and sub-contracted, do ‘bad things’ under that contract? These are the kinds of things that must be addressed if we want others to respect the effort. That respect could also translate into increased legitimacy and even increased business throughout the world, just because those who contract our services would know that there is such a process of control, legal accountability and regulation. -Matt

International Stability Operations Association: IPOA’s New Name

Oct. 25 , 2010

The association that represents the stability operations industry, formerly called IPOA, is now the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA). The new name and logo are designed to better reflect the broad industry that provides vital services and support to the international community in conflict, post-conflict and disaster relief operations.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to make international stability operations more successful by increasing accountability, ethics and standards within the industry,” said ISOA’s President, Doug Brooks. “For almost ten years we have grown as the ethical core of a unique and valuable international resource. Our new name reflects that evolution as an association and as an industry, and positions us for the future.”

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Industry Talk: UN Working Group Is Strangely Silent About The UN’s Use Of PSCs In Afghanistan

     I wanted to do a quick criticism of the UNWG’s latest press release about US PSC’s in Afghanistan. Why would they criticize US oversight of PSC’s, and yet not take a critical look or even mention the UN’s use of PSC’s in Afghanistan?

   UN experts call for stronger oversight of US private security contractors in Afghanistan and I would like to hear what the UN has as a means of accountability over a PSC like IDG Security? What if one of those guards committed a criminal act–what would the UN do with that individual? How about the vetting? Do they know that every guard is former Gurkha or has a clean background? How about the other contracted and sub-contracted companies the UN uses?

    The other thing I was curious about is what happens to a contracted company the UN uses that violates their ‘code of conduct’ called the UN Global Compact? Do they prosecute the individuals in a UN tribunal, or do they just fire them and ‘hope’ that the home country is able to do something with them? Pfffft. Where’s the ‘teeth’, as they say?

     It would seem to me that the UN is doing the exact same things as the US in terms of using PSC’s, but continues to only point fingers at others. I would classify that as ‘hypocritical’, don’t you think? By the way, if UNWG is curious at all, they should contact UN staff in Afghanistan and ask them about the ‘other’ companies they are using. Just so they can have all the information they need to make a report about the ‘UN’s use of PSC’s in war zones’.-Matt

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Press Release from UNWG

GENEVA (19 October 2010) – The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries welcomed as “a step in the right direction” a recent report by the US Senate Committee on Armed Services into the role and oversight of US private security contractors in Afghanistan. “However, more should be done to address the problems raised in that inquiry,” said the Chairperson of the expert body, Alexander Nikitin. “In particular, there should be stronger oversight of US private security contractors in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

“The findings of the US Senate report are consistent with those of the Working Group following its visit to Afghanistan* in April 2009,” said Mr. Nikitin, noting that the study shows the many problems raised by the absence of adequate oversight over the private military and security companies contracted by the US Government in Afghanistan.

“Because of the lack of effective vetting procedures, in particular, some of these companies employed individuals who may have been involved in human rights abuses in the past and continued to be involved in human rights violations while employed by these companies,” he said.

The Working Group noted during its visit to Afghanistan that former armed elements, whether considered to be warlords or anti-Government elements, were not effectively prevented from registering as employees of officially licensed private security companies.

Given the lack of systematic and effective vetting and training procedures, and the absence of adequate sanctions in case of violations, the UN expert body had recommended that Governments contracting private security companies in Afghanistan establish adequate oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Later that year, during the Group’s visit to the United States in July, it also recommended that the US Government establish a more vigorous vetting procedure before awarding contracts. “The problems faced in Afghanistan illustrate once again the importance of and the pressing need for a strong system of regulation and oversight of private military and security companies.” said Mr. Nikitin.

“The matters discussed in the US Senate report are too important to be left to self-regulation of companies,” the Group’s Chairperson stressed. “While voluntary codes of conduct for private contractors are welcome, they are not sufficient to ensure that States regulate and monitor the activities of the companies they contract to carry out State functions, and establish accountability mechanisms to address human rights violations.”

A draft text for a new convention on the regulation of private military and security companies was presented by the expert body to the Human Rights Council last month.The Council decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, taking into account the principles and provisions for a new legally binding instrument proposed by the Working Group on mercenaries.

“The self-regulatory codes of conduct of the security industry have failed in the past ten years to establish effective accountability,” said Mr. Nikitin. “In this regard, we hope that all States, including the United States where many private military and security companies are established, will seriously consider participating in the process initiated by the Human Rights Council aimed at setting up an international regulatory framework for private military and security companies.”

The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities:, Mr. Alexander Nikitin (Chairperson-Rapporteur – Russian Federation), Ms. Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr. José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), Ms. Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan).

Link to press release here.

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Participant Information

IDG Security Pte Ltd.

Participant since 2008/03/06

Status Active

Country Singapore

Organization Type SME

Ownership Private Company

Sector General Industrials

Letter of Commitment  UN_Global_compact_Feb_08.pdf

Website http://www.idg-security.com

Next Communication on Progress

IDG Security Pte Ltd. is required to communicate on progress by 2011/03/06.

Link to UN Global Compact website here.

 

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