Theoretical Approach to Understanding the Nature of Private Military and Security Companies

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-8-24-36

M. Nebol'sina (,
MGIMO University, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow 119454, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The research describes a phenomenon of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in terms of various theoretical conceptions. Fast emergence of new actors, their transformation and a shift from old activity forms to new ones often outpace a political assessment of their nature, their impact on some other international trends and implications of their use that may arise. The research studies the causes for intensification of PMSCs in recent times, their cooperation with states and other actors of the global process. Not a single military operation or a peacekeeping mission goes nowadays without support of these companies. The research also touches upon a dual nature of PMSCs that unveils both their “instrumentalism” and “actorship”. All these trends are going on against the backgrounds of transformation of conventional violence forms – a remarkable feature of which is a new type of war with multiple modern devices and unclear enemies. The transformation of violence lets states outsource a number of security functions to third parties, i.e. PMSCs. On the one hand, rather than losing control over the monopoly on violence the states are expanding their influence using new capacities. On the other hand, PMSCs’ activity in “weak” states with fragile governmental institutions can have a far-reaching impact on inviolability of the stateness. Some cases prove PMSCs to be instruments and agents of state interests becoming conductors of states’ and international organizations’ politics. Other cases demonstrate a high level of independence of these companies and their ability to substitute for law enforcement and social institutions in a number of “weak” states. Considering a mixture of “actorship” and “instrumentalism” of PMSCs, their impact on the world politics in the future remains unclear. Taking into account an ambiguous status of the phenomenon under International Law, the article briefly draws on an important question of democratic control over PMSCs. 

Keywords: non-state actors, private military and security companies (PMSCs), sovereignty, non-conventional conflicts, new type warfare, privatization and outsourcing in security sphere, democratic control, state monopoly on the legitimate use of violence 


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For citation:
Nebolsina M. Theoretical Approach to Understanding the Nature of Private Military and Security Companies. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 8, pp. 24-36.

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