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 4 December 1989, the United Nations General Assembly concluded the convention as its resolution 44/34. The convention entered into force on 20 October 2001and has been ratified by 35 states.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. The headquarters of the UN is in Manhattan, New York City, and is subject to extraterritoriality. Further main offices are situated in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. In 24 October 1945, at the end of World War II, the organization was established with the aim of preventing future wars. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193. The UN is the successor of the ineffective League of Nations.
A multilateral treaty is a treaty to which three or more sovereign states are parties. Each party owes the same obligations to all other parties, except to the extent that they have stated reservations. Examples of multilateral treaties include the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
Countries with large militaries that have not ratified the convention include China, France, India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
Article 1 of the Convention has the following definition of a mercenary:
1. 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.
2. 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.
One time Judge Advocate Todds S. Milliard has argued that the convention and Article 47 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) are designed to cover the activities of mercenaries in post colonial Africa, and do not address adequately the use of private military companies by sovereign states.
The Judge Advocate General's Corps is the branch or specialty of a military concerned with military justice and military law. Officers serving in a JAG Corps are typically called judge advocates. Only the chief attorney within each branch is referred to as the Judge Advocate General; however, individual JAG Corps officers are colloquially known as JAGs.
Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of international conflicts, where "armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination, alien occupation or racist regimes" are to be considered international conflicts. It reaffirms the international laws of the original Geneva Conventions of 1949, but adds clarifications and new provisions to accommodate developments in modern international warfare that have taken place since the Second World War.
In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.
As of December 2016, the convention had been ratified by 35 states.
Below are the states that have signed, ratified or acceded to the convention.
|Country||Signing date||Ratification date||Notes|
|February 5, 1990||August 21 1995|
|March 12, 1990|
|March 20, 1990||Signed as Zaire; successor state is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.|
|April 4, 1990|
|July 17, 1990||September 11, 1991|
|July 20, 1990||Signed as the People's Republic of the Congo; successor state is the Republic of the Congo.|
|September 21, 1990||September 13, 1993||Signed as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.|
|October 5, 1990|
|February 27, 1990||August 10, 1990|
|November 20, 1990||July 14, 1999|
|December 12, 1990|
|December 13, 1990||July 10, 1992|
|December 13, 1990||May 28, 1997||Signed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.|
|December 17, 1990|
|December 21, 1990||Jan. 1, 1996|
|December 28, 1990|
|February 25, 1991|
|December 28, 1990|
|July 8, 1993|
|June 8, 1995|
|September 18, 1996|
|April 12, 1997|
|April 14, 1997||With reservations.|
|January 19, 1998|
|February 9, 1998|
|March 26, 1999|
|July 9, 1999|
|March 27, 2000|
|September 22, 2000|
|March 12, 2001||January 14, 2016||Signed as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.|
|September 20, 2001|
|April 12, 2002|
|May 5, 2002||With reservations.|
|June 18, 2003|
|Sept. 22, 2004|
|September 16, 2005|
|February 28, 2006||With reservations.|
|October 23, 2006|
|March 23, 2007|
|September 2, 2007|
|not ratified and is supporting PMC|
|January 19, 2008||With reservations.|
|November 12, 2013|
|December 12, 2016|
Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the legal doctrine of hierarchical accountability for war crimes.
A private military company (PMC) is a private company providing armed combat or security services for financial gain. PMCs refer to their staff as "security contractors" or "private military contractors". Private military companies refer to their business generally as the "private military industry" or "The Circuit".
The arms industry, also known as the defense industry or the arms trade, is a global industry which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology. It consists of a commercial industry involved in the research and development, engineering, production, and servicing of military material, equipment, and facilities. Arms-producing companies, also referred to as arms dealers, defence contractors, or as the military industry, produce arms for the armed forces of states and for civilians. Departments of government also operate in the arms industry, buying and selling weapons, munitions and other military items. An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition - whether privately or publicly owned - are made, maintained and repaired, stored, or issued, in any combination. Products of the arms industry include guns, artillery, ammunition, missiles, military aircraft, military vehicles, ships, electronic systems, night-vision devices, holographic weapon sights, laser rangefinders, laser sights, hand grenades, landmines and more. The arms industry also provides other logistical and operational support.
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949. While the first three conventions dealt with combatants, the Fourth Geneva Convention was the first to deal with humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone. There are currently 196 countries party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including this and the other three treaties.
Children in the military are children who are associated with military organisations, such as state armed forces and non-state armed groups. Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been involved in military campaigns. For example, thousands of children participated on all sides of the First World War and the Second World War. Children may be trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, or used for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda.
Civilian casualties occurs in a general sense, when civilians are killed or injured by non-civilians, mostly law enforcement officers, military personnel, or criminals such as terrorists and bank robbers. Under the law of war, it is referred to civilians who perished or suffered wounds as a result of wartime acts. In both cases, they can be associated with the outcome of any form of action regardless of whether civilians were targeted directly or not.
In general, a civilian is "a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force". The definition distinguishes from persons whose duties involves risking their lives to protect the public at large from hazardous situations such as terrorism, riots, conflagrations, or wars. It also does not include "criminals" in the category, as authorities and the media wants to distinguish between those who are law-abiding and those who are not.
An unlawful combatant, illegal combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war or is fighting outside of internationally recognized military forces. An unlawful combatant may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action, subject to international treaties on justice and human rights.
The law of war refers to the component of international law that regulates the conditions for war and the conduct of warring parties. Laws of war define sovereignty and nationhood, states and territories, occupation, and other critical terms of international law.
Combatant is the legal status of an individual who has the right to engage in hostilities during an international armed conflict. The legal definition of "combatant" is found at article 43 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 [AP1]. It states that "Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities."
A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is formally not part of a government's armed forces.
A reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breach the rights of non-combatants, an action outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. It is not to be confused with retorsions, as these constitute unfriendly acts generally permitted by international law.
Non-combatant is a term of art in the law of war and international humanitarian law, describing civilians who are not taking a direct part in hostilities; persons—such as combat medics and military chaplains—who are members of the belligerent armed forces but are protected because of their specific duties ; combatants who are placed hors de combat; and neutral persons not involved in fighting for one of the belligerents involved in a war. This particular status was first recognized under the Geneva Conventions with the First Geneva Convention of 1864.
The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was first adopted in 1929, but significantly revised at the 1949 conference. It defines humanitarian protections for prisoners of war. There are 196 state parties to the Convention.
International humanitarian law (IHL) is the law that regulates the conduct of war. It is that branch of international law which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities, and by restricting and regulating the means and methods of warfare available to combatants.
Irregular military is any non-standard military component that is distinct from a country's national armed forces. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used. An irregular military organization is one which is not part of the regular army organization. Without standard military unit organization, various more general names are often used; such organizations may be called a "troop", "group", "unit", "column", "band", or "force". Irregulars are soldiers or warriors that are members of these organizations, or are members of special military units that employ irregular military tactics. This also applies to irregular troops, irregular infantry and irregular cavalry.
Combat medic or field medic is a US term for military personnel who have been trained to at least an EMT-B level, and are responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. They are also responsible for providing continuous medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and battle injuries. Combat medics are normally co-located with the combat troops they serve in order to easily move with the troops and monitor ongoing health. Other countries have similar services, but this article is primarily concerned with the US provision.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), also known as the child soldier treaty, is a multilateral treaty whereby states agree to: 1) prohibit the conscription into the military of children under the age of 18; 2) ensure that military recruits are no younger than 16; and 3) prevent recruits aged 16 or 17 from taking a direct part in hostilities. The treaty also forbids non-state armed groups from recruiting anyone under the age of 18 for any purpose.
Air warfare must comply with laws and customs of war, including international humanitarian law by protecting the victims of the conflict and refraining from attacks on protected persons.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project is an initiative of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights to support the application and implementation of the international law of armed conflict.
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the two 1929 treaties, and added two new conventions. The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic rights of wartime prisoners, established protections for the wounded and sick, and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries. Moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants, yet, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper—the use of weapons of war—which is the subject of the Hague Conventions, and the bio-chemical warfare Geneva Protocol.