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Wm. C. Peters

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The State That Signed a Contract Felled the City: One Voice at the Intersection of Public War and Private Profit

The doctrine of command responsibility under international law has been diluted by privatization of war. Members of military corporations employed by the United States in armed campaigns remain beyond the sovereign’s control in practice. Members of mercenary corporations are not the equivalent of professional soldiers; they lack foundations of lawful authority, professional bonds, and the discipline required to operate under longstanding law of war principles. Conduct of war is an inherently governmental enterprise; the rule for outsourcing to private industry war-fighting functions has been misapplied. Failure to hold individuals culpable for reported war crimes, and interceding contracts between commanders and privatized “soldiers,” precludes superiors from being held accountable for offenses of which they had knowledge and failed to prevent or properly punish.

command responsibility, mercenary corporations, inherently governmental, war crimes

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, Nos. 3-4 (2007): 208-223