NEW REPORT: Guns for hire: the return of the ‘Dogs of War’

3 February 2016 - 7:00am
Press release

The rise in mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East is a frightening return of the ‘Dogs of War’, according to a new report published today by War on Want.

While the Nigerian government has secured the services of South African mercenary troops from the apartheid era to fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north of the country, Colombian mercenaries are fighting alongside Saudi forces in Yemen.

The report, Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies, reveals how this vast private industry, now worth hundreds of billions of dollars, is dominated by UK companies reaping enormous profits from exploiting war, instability and conflict around the world.

Private military and security companies (PMSCs) burst onto the scene 15 years ago, following the declaration of a ‘war on terror’ and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

John Hilary, Executive Director at War on Want, said:

“Private military contractors ran amok in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of human rights abuses in their wake. Now we are seeing the alarming rise of mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones across the world: it is the return of the ‘Dogs of War’.

“For too long this murky world of guns for hire has been allowed to grow unchecked. In letting the industry regulate itself, the government has failed: only binding regulation will do. The time has come to ban these companies from operating in conflict zones and end the privatisation of war.”

It is not just on land that PMSCs are rife. The use of private armies in the maritime industry is booming, and British companies are again at the forefront, providing services to oil corporations seeking to secure assets along major sea lanes.

The report explains how PMSCs are increasingly exploiting a legal loophole when it comes to use of arms in international waters. Making use of floating armouries (ships harboured at sea and stacked with rifles, ammunition, night vision goggles and other military grade equipment) they are able to operate freely without fear of legal repercussions.

There are 20 such armouries currently on the Indian Ocean.  The UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has issued 50 licences for floating armouries operating in Indian Ocean & Gulf of Aden.   

NOTES TO EDITORS

The new War on Want report, Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies, can be downloaded here

For further information or interviews, contact Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550728

Latest news

National strike: Colombian’s demand ‘peace with justice’

27 May 2016 - 4:15pm

Peace in Colombia has all too often centred on government talks with the two armed insurgency groups leaving the vast majority of Colombians side-lined and the voices of grassroots social movements silenced. On 30 May, millions of Colombians will take to the streets in protest against the country’s massive inequality and to demand peace with social and environmental justice at its heart.  

Read more

G4S slammed for link with Israel’s abhorrent prison system

26 May 2016 - 3:45pm

War on Want protested today at the G4S AGM against G4S's continued complicity in human rights violations across the world. In March 2016, G4S bowed to public pressure and promised to end its involvement in the Israeli prison system in two years. G4S has made similar promises in the past, under the pressure of public scrutiny, but has failed to take action on them. War on Want is calling on G4S to end immediately its connection with Israel's abhorrent prison system. 

Read more

Join the conversation

New analysis by @IATP of the #TTIPLeaks looks at the food and farming impacts #GM #NoTTIP https://t.co/YMM0hgMzoQ https://t.co/tssos1UcoH 8 hours 20 min ago
Great News: French authorities investigating @McDonalds Tax Affairs #UnHappyMeal https://t.co/ahdxh24kmv https://t.co/oprw7SuCCn 9 hours 50 min ago
#Colombia: millions to take to the streets for a different kind of peace @redpeppermag https://t.co/KV3xf0RTE8 https://t.co/oTetwJKwmU 10 hours 48 sec ago