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PMCs Feb 2024

United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) Hosts Virtual Expert Group Meeting on Private Military Companies


On 14 February, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in partnership with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), convened a virtual expert group meeting. The goal was to explore the intricate relationships between Private Military Companies (PMCs), criminality and terrorism, and their far-reaching effects on international peace and security.

The meeting brought together a diverse group comprising security and defense experts, counter-terrorism and law enforcement professionals, representatives from governmental entities, international and regional organizations, civil society, academics, and researchers from think tanks specializing in armed conflict, with a view to exploring the evolving dynamics of PMCs.

The significance of this issue was underscored by examining historical and contemporary instances of PMCs involvement in conflicts. Examples included cases in conflict scenarios such as Iraq, Angola, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique. Private Military Companies often operate outside traditional military accountability mechanisms, contributing to blurred lines around military operations and raising concerns over human rights abuses, war crimes, and connections to criminal networks and terrorist activities.

The collaboration between UNICRI and SIPRI aims to shed light on these complex issues through a comprehensive study, which commenced in late 2023. The findings of this research will be published in a joint report, offering insights into the roles of PMCs in conflicts, their relationships with criminal organizations, and their impact on international peace and security. The report will propose strategies for addressing the challenges posed by PMCs and enhancing global coordination efforts.

During the meeting, participants engaged in moderated group discussions based on guiding questions. These discussions examined current trends, interactions with criminal networks and terrorist groups, contributions to conflict resolution, and the impact of PMCs on state stability and peace. The insights gathered during the meeting will inform the joint UNICRI-SIPRI publication, aiming to provide actionable recommendations for mitigating the negative impacts of PMCs.

The final report, which will incorporate the outcomes of these in-depth discussions, will be made publicly available. Its release is anticipated to contribute significantly to a deeper understanding of PMCs' role in contemporary conflicts. Moreover, it will offer strategies for enhancing peace and security.



The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) is a United Nations entity dedicated to supporting countries worldwide in preventing crime and promoting justice and security in support of human rights protection, peace, and development. UNICRI's work focuses on research, policy development, capacity-building and the implementation of initiatives across a range of criminal justice and security issues.

About SIPRI:

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis, and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media, and the interested public.