Impact of the use of private military and security services in humanitarian action (A/HRC/48/51) [EN/AR/RU/ZH]


Human Rights Council
Forty-eighth session
13 September–1 October 2021
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of 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


In the present report, the Working Group examines the increasing role that private military and security companies play in the humanitarian sphere. In doing so, the Working Group sheds light on the extent and nature of private military and security companies’ role in humanitarian action and on the diversity of services offered, including in the contexts of armed conflict, and natural and man-made humanitarian emergencies. The report highlights the impacts of commercialization of humanitarian aid on the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and operational independence. It addresses the fundamental lack of transparency around, and oversight over, the operations of these private military and security companies, noting the lack of accountability and further stressing that significant regulatory gaps remain.

The report highlights the importance of specifically considering the impacts of the use of private military and security services on humanitarian operations, their principles, and the potential for abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law. It concludes by reviewing the limitations of relevant policy tools, and makes suggestions on ways to ensure more robust regulation over these private actors and the protection of humanitarian independence.