Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Outsourcing the responsibility to protect: humanitarian intervention and private military and security companies

  • James Pattison (a1)

States have recently agreed that there is a responsibility to protect populations threatened by genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. The international community, however, often lacks the resources and willingness to carry out a key part of this responsibility, that is, to undertake humanitarian intervention effectively when required. One potential solution to this problem is to outsource intervention to private military and security companies. In this article, I consider this option. In particular, I present a largely consequentialist argument which asserts that, when two conditions are met, using these companies to bolster the capacity to undertake humanitarian intervention might be morally justifiable overall.

Corresponding author
* E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

R. Arneson (2003), ‘Defending the purely instrumental account of democratic authority’, Journal of Political Philosophy 11(1): 122132.

M. Ayoob (2002), ‘Humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty’, International Journal of Human Rights 6(1): 81102.

A. Bellamy (2009), Responsibility to Protect: The Global Effort to End Mass Atrocities, Cambridge: Polity Press.

A. Bellamy P. Williams (2009), ‘The West and contemporary peace operations’, Journal of Peace Research 46(1): 3957.

D. Brooks (2000), ‘Messiahs or mercenaries? The future of international private military services’, International Peacekeeping 7(4): 129144.

O. Bures (2005), ‘Private military companies: a second best peacekeeping option?’, International Peacekeeping 12(4): 533546.

S. Chesterman C. Lehnardt (eds) (2007), From Mercenaries to Market: The Rise and Regulation of Private Military Companies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A Cottey (2008), ‘Beyond humanitarian intervention: the new politics of peacekeeping and intervention’, Contemporary Politics 14(4): 429446.

H.M. Howe (1998), ‘Private security forces and African stability: the case of Executive Outcomes’, Journal of Modern African Studies 36(2): 307331.

S. Kinloch-Pichat (2004), A UN ‘Legion’: Between Utopia and Reality, London: Frank Cass.

A. Leander R. van Munster (2007), ‘Private security contractors in the debate about Darfur: reflecting and reinforcing neo-liberal governmentality’, International Relations 21(2): 201216.

T. Lynch A.J. Walsh (2000), ‘The good mercenary?’, Journal of Political Philosophy 8(2): 133153.

D. Miller (2003), ‘Actual-consequence act utilitarianism and the best possible humans’, Ratio 16(1): 4963.

M. O’Hanlon P.W. Singer (2004), ‘The humanitarian transformation: expanding global intervention capacity’, Survival 46(1): 77100.

J. Pattison (2009), ‘Humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect, and jus in bello, Global Responsibility to Protect 1(3): 364391.

J. Pattison (2010), Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect: Who Should Intervene?, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

M. Patterson (2008), ‘A corporate alternative to United Nations ad hoc military deployments’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law 13(2): 215232.

H.M. Roff (2009), ‘Response to Pattison: whose responsibility to protect?’, Journal of Military Ethics 8(1): 7985.

P.W. Singer (2005), ‘Outsourcing war’, Foreign Affairs 84(2): 119132.

C. Spearin (2005), ‘Between public peacekeepers and private forces: can there be a third way?’, International Peacekeeping 12(2): 240252.

J. Welsh (2004), ‘Authorizing humanitarian intervention’, in R. Price and M. Zacher (eds), The United Nations and Global Security, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 177192.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Theory
  • ISSN: 1752-9719
  • EISSN: 1752-9727
  • URL: /core/journals/international-theory
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 176 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 361 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.