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That companies should be allowed to operate private armies

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whiteflamewhiteflame (PRO)

Alright, just to start, I'd like to thank my opponent for joining me in this secret topic debate.

I'll start by defining the terms.

Companies: In this context, a company is a commercial business, or a for-profit agent.

Allowed: Admit as legally acceptable. Since legal acceptance is dependent entirely on the legal system involved, and since I don't wish to constrain this to a single nation, I will focus on what is allowed through the United Nations. I will also note that making something legally acceptable does not, in turn, require a lack of regulation.

Operate: Control the functioning of.

Private armies: This is a group of personnel that are hired for a number of possible tasks, which include functioning as armed guards, “unarmed guarding, security risk analysis, intelligence gathering and technical support.”[1]

Onto the topic at hand.

Let's start by recognizing what the two sides here are debating. Companies currently are allowed to operate private armies, both by international law and numerous national laws. As such, my side is promoting the status quo, allowing for these private armies to persist and be used. I choose to add to that, but only insofar as adding regulation on an international level. I'll map that out at the end of my case. Con's burden is to present a case that actively prevents companies from doing so by legal means. Note that his case must be absolute, either preventing their operation of private armies they hold or disbanding those armies completely. Judges should examine this debate based on the comparison of the benefits and harms of our cases.

So, what do we think of when we're considering this topic? Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have been vilified for certain practices in recent history, so I wouldn't be surprised if many of you reading this associate the term with negative connotations. I'll leave it to my opponent to make those points, if he feels so inclined.

However, the reality is that PMSCs exist and are commonly used. If the state-run militaries of the world were sufficient, there would be no demand for PMSCs, and therefore no reason for them to continue existing. Yet they play a distinctly important role in numerous capacities, even (and perhaps especially) in nations that have large and powerful militaries. So, then, what role do they play?

It is my argument that they play a fundamentally important role in warfare, provision of expertise, and protection of important resources. I'll present my main advantage this round, and expand into others in the next.

I. Necessary Resources

PMSCs are, fundamentally, a readily accessible source of troops and expertise. If for nothing else, PMSCs should remain available for those emergency situations where a large amount of troops are necessary in the short-term, which would otherwise require the institution of a draft, a slow process that would put many countries at great risk in the immediate future.

But it doesn't stop there. Realize that many countries and industries have numerous foreign ventures, often in areas that are volatile. The only way to ensure the protection of the resources they commit for those ventures is to guard their operations. For industries, this is made impossible without allowing them to operate a private security force, thus requiring them to take on maximum risk or forcing the state to commit troops to aid them.  

For large countries, there are limitations on how many troops they can commit to cover supply trains, protect officials, and staff bases, especially during combat, though certainly not only in that situation. Specialties like translation and operational expertise (such as intelligence) can also fill gaps in the capabilities of these militaries. It is because of these needs, as well as the desire for a rapid-reaction force, training and cost concerns, that the European Union is considering their employment.[2] Without them, countries with all-volunteer militaries are limited to those troops that are available,[3] requiring that they take expensive and difficult measures to cover deficiencies. Even in countries with a draft, their resources can be taxed tremendously by these requirements, and thus working with PMSCs can either fill needs or free up military personnel.

But, perhaps most importantly, small countries can be entirely reliant on PMSCs for protection and stability. We live in a world of “small wars and weak states”, where the threat of “armed insurgents” and “criminal gangs” requires a swift response. PMSCs may be the only option for these countries, and has produced dramatic successes, as was the case in Sierra Leone.[4] This is especially when international bodies like the UN take an average of 6 months to intervene, making their peacekeeping efforts effectively useless for these countries.[5]  

And speaking of the UN, they use PMSCs pretty regularly themselves for numerous purposes including “security services... advice, training, demining, logistics...prepar[ing] proposals for rather extensive operations to remedy UN member state inaction” and is used by “a variety of agencies, programs, funds, departments and divisions within the UN family... including the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP) and UN Development Program (UNDP).” Member states also recruit “personnel from private contractors” for UN operations, as is the case for the U.S. and many developing countries, often providing some of the only security forces they can get. The services they could provide to the UN are irreplaceable, as member states are often unable or unwilling to provide them.[7]


This usage is important for two reasons. One, it protects a lot of nations that cannot protect themselves by ensuring more rapid interventions. Rwanda, Sudan/Darfur, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia all testify to the importance of this protection through their tremendous loss of life and destroyed livelihoods – the UN needs the power to act in such circumstances.[6] Two, it ensures solvency for my case (coming shortly). It's only because the UN has so many PMSC clients that it can “use its client leverage to set standards for PMSC performance”, creating opportunities for improvement of the security market as a whole and giving its regulations teeth.[7]


Still, I am aware of the problems with PMSCs. In order to address these, I would make three changes to the current system:


1. Enforcement, utilizing the UN court system, that allows countries and individuals the capacity to try corporate actors who carry out fraud or undermine security.


2. Limits on the usage of private armies by requiring that the country that uses them satisfy their individual requirements for engaging in conflict before committing troops.  


3. All private operations be supervised and limited by the command of military officials.

I believe that these three restrictions will ensure that the UN "Protect, Respect and Remedy" framework for business and human rights, ensuring that the state duties to protect against human rights abuses, the corporate responsibilities to respect those rights, and and justice for victims of those abuses are all upheld.[8]

1. http://bit.ly/1KikrfX

2. http://bit.ly/1zsjCjj 

3. http://bit.ly/1z3sXNQ

4. http://econ.st/1610HQL 

5. http://bit.ly/1lPONvR

6. http://bit.ly/1CPXfF5

7. http://huff.to/1610UDn

8. http://bit.ly/1zsDNMx

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-02-04 16:22:24
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Well, guess he's all talk. Too bad, I'd put a good deal of work into these arguments.
Posted 2015-02-09 16:31:30
I know some petroleum corporations operate their own private armies.
Posted 2015-01-31 08:17:03
Yes! I was waiting for this topic to happen. A lot of very interesting lines of argument.

Good luck to both of you.
Posted 2015-01-31 08:13:27
Ah, seems you have confidence. I like that. Good luck to you.
Posted 2015-01-31 08:11:24
Secret no more.. :)

And apologies in advance Whiteflame for u are my first victim.. This debate is mine..
Posted 2015-01-31 08:11:02
Secret no more.. :)

And apologies in advance Whiteflame for u are my first victim.. This debate is mine..
Posted 2015-01-31 08:09:59
Alright, another secret topic. Seems interesting.
Posted 2015-01-31 06:17:11
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