An Overview of the UN Mercenary Convention

Introduction

The United Nations Mercenary Convention, officially the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, is a 2001 United Nations treaty that prohibits the recruitment, training, use, and financing of mercenaries. At the 72nd plenary meeting on 04 December 1989, the United Nations General Assembly concluded the convention as its resolution 44/34. The convention entered into force on 20 October 2001 and has been ratified by 46 states.

The convention extends on the Geneva Conventions Protocol I which in Article 47(1) states that a mercenary cannot be a lawful combatant or prisoner of war.

Refer to Private Military Company.

Article 1 (Definition of Mercenary)

Article 1 of the Convention has the following definition of a mercenary:

A mercenary is any person who:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party;
(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.
A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:
(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;
(b) Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation;
(c) Is neither a national nor a resident of the State against which such an act is directed;
(d) Has not been sent by a State on official duty; and
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of the State on whose territory the act is undertaken.

Article 2

Any person who recruits, uses, finances or trains mercenaries, as defined in article 1 of the present Convention, commits an offence for the purposes of the Convention.

Article 3

  1. A mercenary, as defined in article 1 of the present Convention, who participates directly in hostilities or in a concerted act of violence, as the case may be, commits an offence for the purposes of the Convention.
  2. Nothing in this article limits the scope of application of article 4 of the present Convention.

Article 4

An offence is committed by any person who:
(a) Attempts to commit one of the offences set forth in the present Convention;
(b) Is the accomplice of a person who commits or attempts to commit any of the offences set forth in the present Convention.

Article 5

  1. States Parties shall not recruit, use, finance or train mercenaries and shall prohibit such activities in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention.
  2. States Parties shall not recruit, use, finance or train mercenaries for the purpose of opposing the legitimate exercise of the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination, as recognized by international law, and shall take, in conformity with international law, the appropriate measures to prevent the recruitment, use, financing or training of mercenaries for that purpose.
  3. They shall make the offences set forth in the present Convention punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of those offences.

Article 6

States Parties shall co-operate in the prevention of the offences set forth in the present Convention, particularly by:
(a) Taking all practicable measures to prevent preparations in their respective territories for the commission of those offences within or outside their territories, including the prohibition of illegal activities of persons, groups and organizations that encourage, instigate, organize or engage in the perpetration of such offences;
(b) Co-ordinating the taking of administrative and other measures as appropriate to prevent the commission of those offences.

Article 7

States Parties shall co-operate in taking the necessary measures for the implementation of the present Convention.

Signatories and Parties

As of August 2021, the convention had been ratified by 37 states, and signed but not ratified by 9 states.

Several of the states that ratified the agreement are however signatories of the Montreux document (September 2008) which on the contrary of the afore-written convention, does not make illegal the use of mercenaries but gives a document about the use of mercenaries including “good practises”, the agreement having no sanctions or legal constraints tied to it.

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Mercenary_Convention >; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

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