Corporate Mercenaries: Are They a Threat?

Corporate mercenaries are known by a number of names:

  • Private military companies;
  • Private security companies;
  • Military contractors;
  • Mercenaries; and
  • Private military and security companies (PMSC’s).

“War is one of the chief causes of poverty. War can completely undermine a country’s development prospects, destroying schools and hospitals and putting agricultural land out of use for years to come. Fully 80% of the world’s 20 poorest countries have suffered a major war in the past 15 years, and the human legacy continues long after. Nine of the 10 countries with the world’s highest child mortality rates have suffered from conflict in recent years.

Yet not everyone is made poorer by war. Many companies thrive off conflict, whether through supplying military hardware to armed forces or running mercenary armies on behalf of combatant states. Others fuel conflict through their operations in war zones, such as oil companies in volatile countries like Colombia and Iraq, or through their continued trade in goods such as blood diamonds. Others profit from financing the war effort.

This report forms part of War on Want’s campaign to confront those companies which profit from war. The aim of the campaign is to expose the many different ways in which the corporate sector is involved in conflict, and to suggest public action to call such companies to account. The campaign complements War on Want’s longstanding support for our partners in conflict zones: some of the world’s bravest men and women, on the front line in the struggle for human rights.

The following pages examine the rapid expansion of private military and security companies (PMSCs), particularly as a result of the occupation of Iraq. As well as providing information on the activities of these companies, the report urges all readers to call on the UK government to introduce legislation as a matter of urgency in order to bring PMSCs under democratic control. More than four years have passed since the government produced its Green Paper highlighting the challenge posed by PMSCs, and yet there has been no move to regulate their operations. Mercenaries must not be allowed to threaten peace and security around the world in the name of corporate profit.” (2006, p.1).

Read the full report:


War on Want. (2006) Corporate Mercenaries: The Threat of Private Military and Security Companies. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 29 June, 2018].


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