Private Military and Security Companies policy in Africa: Regional policy stasis as Agency in international politics

Tshepo T. Gwatiwa


The purpose of this article is to explain the policy stasis around private security regulation in Africa. Africa is one of the largest theatres of private military and security company operations in the world. Yet, there is still no new regional convention or policy on their regulation. Previous studies focused on Western efforts to formulate regulatory instruments as well as the role of private military and security company activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and previous controversies of Executive Outcomes. This article examines factors that inhibit the continent from moving on from the Organisation of Africa Unity Mercenary Convention of 1977. It broadly argues that the regulatory policy stasis is primarily a question of agency and preferences. The African Union and its member states have pursued two forms of ‘agency slack’—shirking and slippage—in order to favour a legally binding international convention through the United Nations. This position is the sum of historical and incumbent experiences at a regional and international level, most of which are outside the control of regional institutions. Thus, the African Union and its member states have used shirking tactics to minimize participation in non-United Nations initiatives. They also used slippage tactics to justify exemption from such initiatives while stating their understanding of private military and security companies. These two tactics summarily shield African regional preferences in a world where the region has relatively lower power in international politics. 


African Union; Private Military and Security Company; agency; regulation; inter-regionalism

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ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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