The South African defence review (2012) and private military / security companies (PMSCs): heralding a shift from prohibition to regulation?

29 January 2014

This article discusses the possibility of South Africa enacting a new law regulating private military/security companies (PMSCs) beyond the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act of 2006. It argues that such a possibility arises from the policy direction expressed in the Defence Review of 2012, and the recent developments at the international level, which indicate a shift towards accommodation of PMSCs as legitimate players in the security sector. The article surveys the current state of national and international law relating to PMSCs and illustrates how the emerging shift from prohibition to regulation has affirmed the need for legislative intervention in this field. It concludes that since the future is on the side of regulation and not prohibition, legislation that furthers the policy agenda envisioned by the Defence Review 2012 may be the best tool to unlock the inhibitions of the past and create a viable climate for reframing the debate on domestic law governing private militarism in South Africa.