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The Journal

52. Les entreprises para-privées de coercition : de nouveaux mercenaires ?

Para-private coercion companies: new mercenaries?
hiver 2003
Edited by Christian Olsson

couverture n°52
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Credits : Cultures & Conflits - Philippe Bonditti
184 p.-17,50€
ISBN 2-7475-6065-1

How can one analyse firms that claim to « sell security » in ways that go far beyond the mere guarding of individuals and the provision of security for private property ? How to understand the phenomenon of the « privatisation » of « state-functions » concerning policing, intelligence-gathering, the selling of arms, border-control, and advising and counselling in matters of strategy and « counter-insurgency operations » ?
The aim of this issue of Cultures & Conflicts is to discuss and renew the ongoing debate on private military companies by showing the aporias of the discourses of legitimation relative to the practices of some of these companies. These companies often try to hide behind a undifferentiated continuum of protection provision. This allows them to present their activities as commonplace, as if there could be a logical connection between the waging of war in distant theatres and the installation of an armoured door for an individual frightened by what he believes to be an increase in petty crime.
The central preoccupation of this issue is to raise a set of questions silenced by the false debate on « what is the most efficient and the most legitimate actor as far as coercion and international security is concerned : the state or the market ? » What is the pedigree of the personnel of para-private companies of coercion ? How can one study the strategy of controlled delegation of government functions to private companies, which allows the former to project forces without any democratic control or to increase troops in territories and sectors that are more illegitimate or more dangerous than others. It is these questions, as well as others, that the authors try to answer by trying to make a contribution to a renewed analysis of what could be called the contemporary forms of private soldiering.