Regulating Private Security Providers in the Maritime Sphere: Legal Challenges and Dilemmas
Private Security Companies (PSCs) - also referred to as Private Military Companies (PMCs) - have emerged in the past 20 years, offering a vast menu of military and security services, ranging from logistics support, risk analysis, training of military units and intelligence gathering, to the rescue of hostages and the protection of assets and people in conflict zones. The employment of PSCs has given rise to a number of concerns about the nature of services provided by these companies. These concerns mostly centre on the lack of transparency and public oversight of operations and business practices of PSCs and whether the protection of national security and the provision of military services should remain within the domain of governments, rather than the profit motivated private sector. Even though most of the literature on the privatization of security focuses on PSC operations on land, the demand for private military and security services also comes from the maritime sector. Indeed, PSCs are today employed to protect ports, underwater assets, offshore energy installations and their supply chains, fishing grounds and a large variety of vessels, including merchant ships, large fishing boats, cruise ships, and navy vessels visiting foreign ports. Moreover, like PSC activities on land, the employment of PSCs in the maritime sector has caused concern, making regulation and oversight of PSC operations at sea an important issue. This paper examines current regulation and oversight of PSCs active in the maritime sphere, with particular focus on regulations regarding the use of armed escort vessels and the employment of armed guards hired to protect merchant ships outside zones of international armed conflict. It first gives an overview of the maritime services provided by PSCs and explains why regulation of these companies and their activities is crucial. The second part of the paper focuses on international and national efforts to regulate PSCs active in the maritime sphere. The paper seeks to determine which existing national and international regulations PSCs must comply with and discusses the legal challenges and dilemmas caused by the employment of maritime PSCs. It will be suggested that current national as well as international regulations are insufficient to effectively hold PSCs accountable for their actions. Furthermore, by examining the 58 regulatory bodies involved in managing maritime trade, it will be demonstrated that some regulatory bodies are not in a strong position to draft and reinforce new regulations. The paper concludes by suggesting that overall international, as well as national, efforts need to be increased to effectively regulate maritime PSCs and that serious thought needs to be given to establish which national or international bodies are best placed to ensure effective regulation of maritime PSCs.
Kokusai Anzen Hosho