Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Lauren Groth


This Article argues that there is an [a]ccountability gap within the legal frameworks that apply to private military security contractors (PMSCs) that has led to widespread impunity and human rights violations. Recent legal efforts to address the problem have been unsuccessful because they fail to consider and reflect the larger transformations taking place in international relations. This failure is, in essence, the [A]ccountability gap: international law no longer accurately reflects the nature of the realities it is meant to regulate, allowing those organizations which now hold power in global politics, yet are unrecognized by international law, to escape accountability. Thus, I propose a remedy to the [a]ccountability gap for PMSCs that is grounded in addressing, and narrowing, the larger [A]ccountability problem. I suggest a normative framework for the expansion of human rights obligations to PMSCs. This can be done by expanding the existing rigid concepts of "legal personality" under international law to consider non-state actors, specifically, PMSCs, when they are engaging in actions that are "inherently governmental." In addition, this normative framework can be carefully bounded, so as to avoid concerns that it might expand beyond current realities, to recognize only those obligations that reflect a careful balancing of individual rights and legitimate PMSC interests, and to incorporate only those claims that are sufficiently connected to the actions of the PMSC via the theoretical "all-subjected" principle of international justice.