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Gomez del Prado: Private Security Contractors

Interviewee: José Gomez del Prado, Chairperson-Rapporteur, UN Working Group on Private Security Contractors
Interviewer: Greg Bruno, Staff Writer
December 20, 2007

In Iraq and Afghanistan thousands of private soldiers protect foreign diplomats, guard bases, and secure infrastructure. The U.S. military says it can’t do its job without the help of contracted security firms. Yet the killing of seventeen Iraqis by the American-based Blackwater Worldwide on September 16 opened a heated debate into the legality of outsourcing military functions. Now, the United Nations has begun to weigh in.

José Gomez del Prado, chairman of a UN working group investigating security contractors, says Western firms are increasingly employing third country nationals to work in high-risk areas like Iraq. Gomez del Prado, who presented his findings to the UN General Assembly in November 2007, says “thousands” of trained guards from Latin America and Asia are employed by Blackwater-like companies. He says the practice has created a “labyrinth of contracts” and a potential legal minefield for the international community.

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