Breakfast Briefing with Sorcha MacLeod

The Contemporary Challenges of Mercenarism: Problems and Solutions


Mercenaries and mercenary-related actors are rarely out of the news currently. Whether in Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Syria, Nagorno Karabakh, Ukraine or elsewhere, the increasing use of mercenaries to fight­ in both international and non-international armed conflicts is an alarming phenomenon. Their use prolongs armed conflicts and has substantial negative impacts for civilian populations in the form of human rights and IHL violations, which in some cases rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The use of mercenaries as proxy actors for third party states is particularly problematic, as is the growing trend of predatory recruitment and trafficking of persons for mercenarism by such states. At the same time, prosecutions of mercenaries are minimal and access to justice for victims is rare. At this breakfast briefing, Sorcha MacLeod will addresses these contemporary challenges of mercenarism and highlight approaches that may be taken by the international community to tackle them.

About the speaker

Sorcha MacLeod is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, and a member of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries. She is also an invited expert to the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on private military and security companies. She participated in the development of the Montreux Document regulatory process on private military and security companies, as well as the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers.

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See a list of all the Breakfast Briefings for Autumn 2023.