The Road to Regulation of Private Military and Security Companies: An Analysis of the (Re-)Articulation of the Norms Governing the Legitimate Use of Force
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KeywordsMonopoly on violence; Privatisation; Norm change; Norm entrepreneurs; Legitimacy; Realist constructivism; Non-state violence
The University of Bradford theses are licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
InstitutionUniversity of Bradford
DepartmentDepartment of Peace Studies Faculty of Social and International Studies
Since the end of the Cold War, private military and security companies have gained a prominent place on the international battlefield. In an attempt to reduce monetary and political costs, states have not only outsourced some of the defense functions previously performed by uniformed personnel; they have also partly privatised the provision of security. Traditional accounts of the rise of private military and security companies have explained this evolution in terms of changing demand and supply of military force after the Cold War, in a neoliberal ideological environment. This rationalist account, however, overlooks the role of norms, which, as the constructivist research tradition has demonstrated, constrain state behaviour even in the domain of national security. From this constructivist point of view, the rise of private military and security companies is surprising given the existence of an anti-mercenary norm and a norm on the state monopoly on violence, both of which have precluded the private exercise of violence. How, then, should the rise of private military and security companies be understood in light of this hostile normative environment? Against a realist-constructivist background, this text draws upon models of norm change and epistemic communities to show that private military and security companies have used their pragmatic legitimacy and epistemic power to decisively shape the discursive construction of a new regulatory framework that legitimises the exercise of non-state violence.