Explanation of Vote by John F. Sammis, Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, on Third Committee resolution A/C.3/66/L.62 "Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self determination"

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 17, 2011


The United States takes very seriously issues regarding private security companies, military contractors and their accountability. The United States continues to believe that the most effective and immediate way of addressing these concerns is through better implementation of existing laws- both national and international - and through robust collaborative efforts that bring together industry, civil society and governments to work directly on raising standards, such as the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.

We were pleased to participate in the May inter-governmental working group in Geneva, and were encouraged by the wide range of useful discussions that took place.  At that meeting, several delegations and experts expressed the view that the inter-governmental working group should consider alternatives to elaborating a convention.  Following those discussions, we believe there is the potential to proceed in another direction-perhaps by providing guidance to countries considering ways to regulate more effectively.

Unfortunately, the resolution before us prejudges the ongoing work of the intergovernmental working group, strays from the original mandate to "consider the possibility" of elaborating an international regulatory framework, and rushes to support a poorly considered, legally binding instrument where additional law is not needed at this time.

Additionally, in attempting to build on the problematic draft convention proposed by the Working Group on Mercenaries, this resolution would create a time-consuming, resource-intensive process that is not likely to produce practical results.  The Working Group's draft convention is unworkable and inappropriately broad.  For example, as currently drafted, it would likely prohibit military and police training programs provided by private companies, making it difficult for many countries to obtain necessary training services. It could also impact UN humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts, many of which rely on private contractors for logistics, security, and training.  It would even reach broad categories of conduct not appropriately regulated in such a convention, including information security or material support to militaries.

At a minimum, devoting resources to drafting a formal convention is premature, in light of still-evolving domestic and international efforts, such as the Montreux Document and the Code of Conduct.  We believe that we should allow these efforts to mature so as to further distill key insights and best practices before a decision on formal drafting of a convention is warranted.
For all of these reasons, the United States regrets that we must call a vote and vote no on this resolution.


PRN: 2011/249