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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Private security companies and human security : assessing the impact of new actors on a new process Spearin, Christopher Robert


This dissertation assesses the presence of internationally oriented private security companies (PSCs), a form of modern-day mercenarism, upon the promotion of human security. This assessment is a considered response, employing multiple cases, PSCs, and services, to those who espouse the use of PSCs. It is also fitting given the holistic nature of human security with its emphasis upon multiple actors and diffused responsibility. Using two human security characteristics of organized force, good conduct and good governance, the dissertation examines PSCs in terms of their application of armed force, their work in security-sector training, and their interaction with humanitarian endeavours. Accompanying this analysis is a consideration of the present state of regulation and the degree to which it does, and might in the future, respond to the need to promote human security. The dissertation makes four findings with relevance both for PSCs and the promotion of human security. One is that firms, on their own merits, have a relatively positive direct impact upon human security. The second finding, however, is that their indirect impact is less promising. The third finding is that potential regulators, whether they are international or regional organizations or supplier states, are not yet ready, or perhaps even willing, to implement human-security-centric regulation of PSCs. The fourth and more general finding of this dissertation is that the promotion of human security must be seen as a process rather than an end goal. This is due to the indirect effects and negligent character of various actors' conduct both on their own and in combination with those of others. In sum, the PSC is a "neutral" instrument to be employed in a variety of ways. But given the nature of the marketplace, client relations, regulatory standards, and in some cases the poor judgments of the PSCs in response to client demands, human security promotion is not always at the fore.

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