Contemporary Private Military Firms Under International Law: An Unregulated ‘Gold Rush

Jackson Maogoto, Benedict Sheehy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clearly, the issues raised by the ascendance of contemporary PMFs would be suitable for a book length treatment; however, in light of the pressing nature of the present situation expediency dictates a shorter but timelier piece. This article has as its modest aim an exploration of the thorny legal issues raised by the commodification of force. It discusses the nature of the contemporary PMF noting that it bears vestiges of yester year mercenaries. It then grapples with their uncertain status under international law despite the fact that they potentially pose problems for state authority and the direct control of states over the use of force. At the heart of the argument is the reality that PMFs maintain the ability to inflict violence on a scale previously reserved to sovereign nations and the real potential to violate humanitarian norms. Yet, they are largely inadequately regulated under existing domestic and international frameworks thus bear hazy legal liability and sanction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-270
Number of pages26
JournalAdelaide Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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