Events in Haiti and C.A.R. Show Threats Posed by Mercenaries to International Peacekeeping

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Friday, July 16, 2021
Sara Kaufman

Recent events in Haiti[1] and the Central African Republic[2] have underscored the continued threats that the use of mercenaries poses to international peacekeeping.  Mercenaries have been involved in armed conflicts for over 3,000 years, as kings and despots have utilized them in order to acquire and maintain power and affluence.[3]   International law has strived to regulate such offences and encourage States to prevent the illicit activities, especially violence and assassinations, from occurring within their borders. As defined by Article 47 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, mercenaries are individuals who are recruited locally or abroad in order to participate directly in an armed conflict.  They are motivated through substantial material compensation and are neither nationals of a party to the conflict nor a resident to the territory involved in the conflict.[4]

[1] Laurence Blair and Ryan Grim, Bolivian Ex-Minister of Defense Plotted a Second Coup Using U.S. Mercenaries, The Intercept, June 17, 2021,

[2] Declan Walsh, Russian Mercenaries Are Driving War Crimes in Africa, U.N. Says, The New York Times, June 27, 2021,

[3] Grant E. Courtney, American Mercenaries and the Neutrality Act: Shortening the Leash on the Dogs of War, Journal of Legislation, 1985,

[4] International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2001,