Personalens status i Privata militära företag: En folkrättslig gråzon
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In modern times, the presence of Private military companies (PMC) in armed conflicts has increased. The practical use of these PMCs, in armed conflicts, has created problems with regard to determining their legal status under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This paper examines the legal status of the personnel in PMCs in armed conflicts and reveals that the only way that the personnel in PMCs may have legal status as combatants is if they are incorporated into the armed forces of a state. State practice, on the other hand, shows that this is not actually implemented in modern armed conflicts. Instead, the research shows that it is state practice to consider personnel in PMCs to have legal status as civilians, something which includes both the legal status as persons who accompany the armed forces and ordinary civilians.1 With regard to the legal status as persons who accompany the armed forces, the research reveals that the US Department of Defence is of the opinion that persons who accompany the armed forces, who have a primary status as civilians, may participate in hostilities without loosing the right of their secondary status as prisoners of war (POW). This is an interpretation that may be understood as being contrary to the view in IHL, which says that civilians loose their privileges when and during the time they participate in hostilities. . Based on the state practice which indicates that the personnel in PMCs have the legal status as civilians, this paper argues that the personnel in PMCs, who provide services in armed conflicts which require direct participation in the hostilities, may be classified as unprivileged belligerents. The research also shows that personnel in PMCs in certain circumstances may be classified as mercenaries, but examples indicate that this is less likely to happen in reality. As the participation of PMCs in modern armed conflict is increasing, this research urges the need for international and national initiatives and policies to regulate the use of PMCs and to determine the legal status of their personnel. The study also emphasizes the need for extended education of the armed forces in IHL, in particular regarding the legal status of the personnel in PMCs.