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Cablegate: Un General Assembly: Mercenaries

VZCZCXRO3119
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #1063/01 3252113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 212113Z NOV 07
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3170
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0635
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0340
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0196
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1108
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 0210
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2948

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 001063

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNGA PHUM IZ
SUBJECT: UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: MERCENARIES


1. (U) On November 7, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado, Chairmen of
the UN's Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries as a Means
of Violating Human Rights and Impeding the Exercise of the
Right of Peoples to Self-Determination, presented his report
to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. Much of
his statement dealt with the use of private security guards
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. (U) Gomez del Prado said the Working Group had received
complaints that guards from private security firms are acting
indiscriminately, shooting, killing or injuring civilians
whom they consider a threat. He noted that the September 16
incident in Iraq is one of many such incidents that have
occurred since private security firms started operating
there. He argued that governments have a duty to respect
human rights, the rule of law and public order, even when
using private security companies.

3. (U) Gomez del Prado noted that the U.S. State Department
contracts security firms, which in turn sub-contract with
other companies, whose employees are often former military
and police officers recruited abroad. He stated that this
leads to complicated contractual relationships and unclear
accountability for violations of human rights caused by these
contracted guards, and to violations of the rights of the
guards themselves.

-------------
U.S. Response
-------------

4. (U) The U.S. delegate responded that the United States
sets high standards for all security contractors at the U.S.
Embassy in Baghdad. He described Embassy procedures in
response to rare instances of the use of force by
contractors. He also described the U.S. response to the
September 16 incident, including an FBI investigation, a
joint commission of inquiry with the government of Iraq, and
the Secretary of State's Panel on Personnel Protective
Services in Iraq. (The full text of the U.S. statement is
available at www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov.)

5. (U) In response Gomez del Prado thanked the United States
for outlining measures taken to ensure accountability among
its security contractors in Iraq. He noted that more than
20,000 private security guards have worked in Iraq since the
beginning of the conflict. He stated that the High
Commissioner for Human Rights raised the issue of the
accountability of these individuals with the United States
and the U.S. response has been that these individuals are
accountable to the U.S. federal courts. He also noted,
however, that Ambassador L. Paul Bremer had granted immunity
to individual contractors and that as a result Iraqi courts
are not able to bring these individuals to justice.
6. (U) Gomez del Prado argued that while private security
companies have codes of conduct, they are often not enforced
in practice. He noted that there have been many cases of
indiscriminate acts of violence by contractors and that these
incidents have been reported in the press. He also argued
that there is a need for regulation to cover the "gray
areas," including a possible optional protocol to the UN's
1989 convention on mercenaries. He suggested holding
regional meetings, which would bring together companies and
NGOs to come up with such a protocol.

-------------------------
Other Delegations Respond
-------------------------

7. (U) Russia called for the creation of a legislative basis
to monitor and track private security contractors. Libya
stated that it is not a matter of prohibiting, but rather of
regulating and evaluating, the work of these companies.
Later in the debate, however, the Libyan delegate argued that
the international community must correct the problem of this
"new form of mercenarism" as soon as possible by banning and
criminalizing the use of private companies in cases of
invasion and occupation. Venezuela said the involvement of
mercenaries both in security services and in training of
foreign armed forces constitutes a violation of human rights
and the right to self-determination and could lead to
incitement of civil wars. Chile expressed support for the
Working Group, but said the issue of alleged violations of
human rights of indigenous peoples by contractors of a
forestry company in Chile is outside the Group's mandate.


USUN NEW Y 00001063 002 OF 002


8. (U) The report of the Working Group can be found at
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/48 9/82/
PDF/N0748982.pdf?OpenElement.
Khalilzad

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