Mercenaries Feeding Off Terrorism and Crime - UN

African mercenaries are expanding beyond war and into organized crime, terrorism and violent extremism, the UN Secretary General warned this week.

 security council copyThe Security Council was urged to confront mercenaries (Photo: US State Department)Without greater regional and international support to disarm and demobilize mercenaries, the groups will continue to threaten international peace and security, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council Monday.

The UN chief drew attention to illicit trafficking during recent post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire and  to “innumerable human rights violations” in the Central African Republic which tried to restrict movements of herders along the Cameroon border.  

Guterres said “guns for hire” feed off of small arms trafficking and poaching and that terrorism proliferates across Central Africa.

The UN adopted an international convention to tackle the use of mercenaries in 1989, but Guterres said only 35 nations are party to it. He called on all member states to ratify it immediately.  

China’s economic presence can now be felt across Africa. Its UN representative, Ma Zhaoxu, called for greater border control and information-sharing to stop weapon trafficking.  

“Mercenary activities threaten international peace and security, causing heavy loss of life and property, and affecting economic development of African countries,” he said.

Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Richard Sezibera claimed many mercenary groups now commit cyberattacks and industrial espionage. They are “well financed with sophisticated military equipment and many connected to global terrorist networks.”

Nations spend US$100 billion on mercenaries, said Kuwait’s representative, although this is predicted to double over the next few years.