New Humanitarians? Private Military and Security Companies
until further notice
SourceMillennium: Journal of International Studies, 40, 2, (2011), pp. 1-24
Article / Letter to editor
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Millennium: Journal of International Studies
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
Although private military and security companies (PMSCs) are gaining increasing importance, they still suffer from an image problem. In the media, they are frequently referred to as ‘mercenaries’ or ‘dogs of war’. PMSCs are therefore interested in presenting themselves as legitimate and acceptable contract parties. Based on a discourse analysis of the homepages of select PMSCs and the industry association International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), and drawing on the framing literature, we examine one way in which companies respond to such negative labels. We show not only that PMSCs provide supplemental logistics or security for the staff of humanitarian organisations confronted with complex emergencies and ever-more dangerous missions, but also that these companies appropriate the humanitarian frame discursively, emphasising those elements that fit their interests and needs. To present themselves as ‘new humanitarians’, PMSCs employ primarily two kinds of strategies: naming and forging alliances with more traditional humanitarian actors. Their growing involvement in this field may not be without consequences and may contribute to the blurring of lines between military and civilian missions.
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