19th Century Hausa & Fulani Jihadi’s inspire Boko Haram

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a Muslim cleric and Wahhabi theologian who created a school promoting radical Islamic principles (United States Institute of Peace, 2012). The derivation of Boko Haram translated means “Western education is a sin” (Owolade, 2014). 

Under Yusuf’s leadership, Boko Haram furthered its radical agenda with a bloody campaign of violence against rural communities. (Ndege & Essa, 2013). After Yusuf died in police custody in 2009, Abubakar Shekau rose to power and continued to spread the sect’s extremist philosophies. (Dorrell, 2014).

Violence increased after the 2010 election of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Southern Christian (Owolade, 2014). The Boko Haram sect waged war against the presiding political leadership and sought to create a “pure Islamic state ruled by strict shari’a law” (United States Institute of Peace, 2012).

Pre-colonial Nigeria

In the early 1800s, a jihad, demanding Islamic principles and opposing political oppression by Hausa rulers, was joined by both Hausa Muslims and Fulani soldiers. Following the success of the jihad, the Fulani and Hausa replaced the ruling dynasty and the “emirate system” was created. The assimilation of culture and tradition proved to be influential in shaping the Islamic identity of Hausaland during the colonial period and continuing to present day in Northern Nigeria (Turaki, 1993).

Colonial Nigeria

During the late 19th century, both the British and the French sought to extend their empires to Hausaland. By the early 20th century, the British controlled Nigeria and divided the state into northern and southern Nigeria; a short while later, both protectorates were combined to form the Protectorate of Nigeria (Bah, 2005). The southern region was eventually occupied by Christian missionaries at the behest of the British and remains predominately Christian today (Chidi, 2003).

Post-Independence Nigeria

Since Nigerian independence in 1960, clashes between the northerners and southerners have persisted. The ongoing tension between the predominately Muslim North and the predominately Christian South has fostered a growth in extremist sects like Boko Haram that have adopted radical ideologies rejecting Western culture and education. Boko Haram’s attacks against Christian institutions and local Nigerian authorities has garnered international attention and the sect is acknowledged to be an international terrorist threat (BBC News, 2014) with alleged if tenuous links to IS.

Dismantling BH is an International Imperative

In the wake of the recent large scale kidnappings, the Nigerian government has been forced to take action against Boko Haram. It is unclear as to the progress, if any, the security forces have made in apprehending members of Boko Haram. Most independent communication sources have been disconnected but authorities report that they are succeeding in their fight against the extremist sect (Ndege & Essa, 2013).

Presently, securing the release or achieving the rescue of large numbers of innocent kidnapped children and reducing future extremist violence lies solely within the current Nigerian government’s remit as they have resisted external offers of help, save for sending (allegedly) 1500 military personnel abroad for counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist training. The need to dismantle Boko Haram and impose severe opposition to their terrorist agenda is an international imperative which is currently not being facilitated by the Nigerian incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.


Bah, A. (2005) Breakdown and Reconstitution, Democracy, the Nation-State, and Ethnicity in Nigeria. Lanham: Lexington Books.

BBC News. (2014) Nigeria: Boko Haram now major threat says Wole Soyinka. [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27264748 [Accessed 27 June 2014].

BBC News (2014) More Nigerian girls abducted by suspected militants. [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27289924 [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Chidi, I. (2003) Nigeria’s Religious and Cultural Conflict. [Online] Available from: http://web.stanford.edu/class/e297a/Nigeria’s%20Religious%20and%20Cultural%20Conflict.doc [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Ndege, Y. and Essa, A. (2013) The rise of Nigeria’s Boko Haram: An in-depth look at the shadowy group as violence continues to wrack the West African country’s northeast. [Online] Available from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/09/201397155225146644.html [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Dorrell, O. (2014) Boko Haram: Facts, History, Leaders, And Origins Of The Terrorist Group. [Online] Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/boko-haram-facts-history_n_5295563.html [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Ochonu, M. (2008) Colonialism within Colonialism: The Hausa-Caliphate Imaginary and the British Colonial Administration of the Nigerian Middle Belt. [Online] Available from: http://asq.africa.ufl.edu/ochonu_fall08/ [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Owolade, F. (2014) Boko Haram: How a Militant Islamist Group Emerged in Nigeria. [Online] Available from: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4232/boko-haram-nigeria#_ftn14 [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Tertsakian, C. (2004) Political Shari’a? Human Rights Watch 16(9A), 9.

Turaki, Y. (1993) The British Colonial Legacy in Northern Nigeria: A Social Ethical Analysis of the Colonial and Post-Colonial Society and Politics in Nigeria. Nigeria: Challenge Press.

United States Institute of Peace (2012) “Special Report: What is Boko Haram?” United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available from http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/SR308.pdf [Accessed 27 June 2014].

Thailand’s coup – a serious threat to stability in Myanmar and Cambodia

In late May 2014 the Thai military seized power in a widely anticipated coup by the hawks who have been hinting at same for some time now. This is the twelfth coup in Thailand since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 (BBC, 2014) and the army justified their intervention on this occasion for the need to stabilize the volatile political situation.

Thailand has been in turmoil during recent years and the already tense situation – where two sides kept rallying against or for the government – began to escalate in November 2013 when MPs approved a controversial bill which would help former Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra avoid prison on corruption charges. The situation worsened in May 2014 when the Constitutional Court removed PM Yingluck Shinawatra from power. (BBC, 2014)

Thaksin Shinawatra & Yingluck Shinawatra
Shortly afterwards, the army stepped in and started clamping down on intellectuals and opposition, limited the freedom of speech and imposed a curfew. Western leaders criticized the coup and are closely watching what impact the situation will have on the South-East Asian region. Of particular interest is the impact on the Kingdom of Cambodia which is struggling with an influx of its citizens from Thailand, and on Myanmar, itself a former military regime. Can these emerging democracies and key players in the “sphere of influence” stand-off between China and the USA in the region, withstand the Thai crisis?

Struggling Thailand

Leader of the Thai coup, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced in late June that Thailand will not have free elections until October 2015. The reason why was given as “We want to see an election that will take place under the new constitution… Today, if we go ahead and hold a general election, it will lead to a situation that will return to the old cycle of conflict, violence, corruption by influential groups in politics, terrorism and the use of war weapons.” (BBC, 2014)

General Prayuth Chan-ocha

Thailand is divided internally and its economy has been struggling with slowing growth and outflows of capital (The Irrawaddy, 2014). Prior to the current political unrest, there was a need for Thailand to take action to stay competitive in the Asian market, given the emergence of other countries such as Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines as attractive alternative places to invest. The country, once a symbol of democracy and prosperity in the region, is now in turmoil, its intellectual elite and media live in fear and the political upheavals are impacting Thailand´s neighbors.

Exodus to Cambodia

Cambodia was hit by a huge wave of returnees. Almost 200,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand started moving eastwards once the rumor spread that the Thai junta would clamp down on illegal migrants. This led to a row between the two countries as thousands of desperate Cambodians headed for the border.

Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng blamed the Thai army for the exodus and said it “must be held responsible”. (BBC, 2014) The generals defended themselves and issued a statement saying that only illegals would be targeted. The issue is not helping the already tense relations, given the legacy border issues over the area around the Preah Vihear temple in the Dangrek Mountains which led to riots and armed conflict in 2003.

Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng

The fragile Cambodian democracy and the country’s economic potential are at stake. The return of ex-pat Cambodians may harm the local economy and affect border security in the disputed region.

In addition, Thai intellectuals seeking exile in Cambodia – something unimaginable a few decades ago – and who may plan to organize resistance from there against the junta places Phnom Penh in an “awkward position” (New York Times, 2014).

Economic Windfall for Myanmar

In Myanmar the government is struggling to come to terms with events in Bangkok. Myanmar which only a few years ago was home to a ruthless regime is a delicate balance of democratic aspirations assisted by foreign direct investment by China and the USA in particular in an attempt to nurture and preserve the new political climate. Events in Thailand are familiar to the Burmese in particular dictat’s curtailing the freedom of speech and the regular announcements of names of detained citizens on Thai TV.

And there are fears in Myanmar that the Thai coup will threaten their emerging freedom and destabilize the region. These fears come, interalia, from the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party. “I am sad to learn about the coup, it could give the government an idea,” Win Htein, a MP for NLD said (Bangkok Post, 2014). “The lessons in all this for Myanmar are plain to see. … And for whatever reason, we must not let our guards down,“ Burmese Professor Aung Naing Oo teaching in Thailand warned (ibid).

Professor Aung Naing Oo

But others are not that fearful, government MPs are generally condemning the coup saying that Myanmar – as current ASEAN chairman – will “respond soon” and “see how soon the power goes back to people”. Historically, coups in Thailand and Myanmar / Burma are different, in Thailand the army always gave back the power, while in Burma the coup of 1962 meant decades of tyranny.

Win Htein (right)

The Thai coup is likely to lead to Myanmar competing for foreign direct investments previously ear marked for Thailand before the uncertainty. Myanmar has potential in gas and oil development and investors will prefer projects there if Thailand remains unstable – the additional capital investment in addressing the infrastructural challenges in Myanmar may seem more palatable than an all or nothing bet on Thailand not descending into serious civil unrest.

International Response

Criticism of the coup by Western governments and Australia is not helping Bangkok. (The Irrawaddy, 2014). Elsewhere the response has been muted and benign, most Western governments are focused on events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.  

In Myanmar politicians are not worried about regional instability. “I am more worried about people sabotaging the peace process (between the government and ethnic groups),” Burmese MP Ye Myint told Bangkok Post. (Bangkok Post, 2014)

In Cambodia, the government is taking as diplomatic a stance as it can, without seeming weak, and hoping that the more sinister predictions regarding the Thai military and their designs on the disputed border regions, are avoided

Sentiment in Thailand is mixed but most is negative “I think there will be problems in this country for a generation or two,” a business owner in Bangkok was quoted as saying “I would like to get out of the country safely,“ he added. (New York Times, 2014)

Is this the end game for Thai democracy, a potential spark to ignite a wider Thai / Cambodian conflict to allow the Thai military divert attention from internal issues or a motivator for similar minds in Myanmar to return that nation to a military administration? Or is it just another intermezzo in the decades of peculiar Thai democracy and South East Asian politics in general.

BBC NEWS. (2014) Thai army promises elections in October 2015. [Online] Available from:
[Accessed: 29th September 2014].

BBC NEWS. (2014) Cambodia ramps up criticism of Thailand´s junta. [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27898652
[Accessed: 29th September 2014].

BBC NEWS. (2014) Why is Thailand under military rule? [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25149484
[Accessed: 29th September 2014].

BOOT, W. (2014) Thailand´s Coup May Affect Burma´s Oil and Gas Sector. The Irrawaddy [Online] 6th June. Available from: http://www.irrawaddy.org/business/thailands-coup-may-affect-burmas-oil-gas-sector.html [Accessed: 29th September 2014].

CNN (2014) Cambodian migrant workers flee Thailand [Online] Available from: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/18/world/cambodia-thailand-migrants-border/index.html
[Accessed: 29th September 2014].

FULLER, T. (2014) In Thailand, growing intolerance for dissent drives many to more authoritarian nations. New York Times. [Online] 6th June. Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/world/asia/in-thailand-a-growing-intolerance-for-dissent.html?_r=0 [Accessed: 29th September 2014].

VERBROGGEN, Y (2014) Myanmar stunned by coup, and they should know. Bangkok Post. [Online] 1st June. Available from: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investigation/412921/myanmar-stunned-by-coup-and-they-should-know [Accessed: 29th September 2014].

Libya unchecked – haven & base for extremists to poison the region

In February 2011, English photographer Charlie Waite had just finished a month long assignment across Libya capturing some of the country’s most iconic sites in a peaceful tranquil atmosphere. Less than two days after his departure, civil war had erupted (Kingsley, 2014). Libya has been in a state of violent flux since then, long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in power since 1969 was killed in October 2011, the National Transitional Council promptly declared Libya to be officially ‘’liberated’’ and on the road to ‘’democracy’’ (BBC, 2014).

June 25th 2014, marked a crucial date in determining the future of the “new” Libya with elections held across the nation. After the historic elections of 2012, which saw over 62% of registered voters electing a secular alliance, Libya has struggled to build upon that excitement and hope, particularly with instability and violence emanating throughout the region (Manfreda, 2012). The country has stagnated over the intervening years, with political uncertainty and rebel violence dominating the agenda.

The Specter of Al-Qaeda & IS

The divide between extreme Islamists and ordinary Libyans has steadily increased inline with the upheaval across the country. Violent clashes are a daily occurrence (Zirulnick, 2014). The situation is by no-means a simple struggle between shades of radical Islam. The specter of Al-Qaeda and IS hovers over the region with growing support for their extremist messages among the disaffected Islamists and others who feel they have been omitted from the ruling process since the fall of Gaddafi (Abiew, 2013).

The appetite for political change in Libya which was empowering in 2012 has failed completely as the 2014 electoral turnout indicated (Fetouri, 2014). In spite of the rhetoric of foreign politicians, chief among those President Obama who described the elections as a ‘’milestone’’, the situation within Libya is far from optimistic (Washington Post, 2014).

A Shift from Democratic Tendencies

The situation in present day Libya is complex on a number of different levels, the facts would appear to indicate a strong shift away from democratic tendencies, yet the reality is something different altogether. Disenchantment and regret at the current situation within Libya is shared by the majority of a population who anticipated an altogether different Libya in 2011. 

Gone is the hope that encapsulated the Arab Spring and in its stead is a sense of betrayal and confusion over the dismal performance of those in power since 2012 (Stephen, 2014). To further outline the depth of disillusionment held by ordinary Libyans, Mustafa Fetouri contends that ‘’The unmistakable reality now is that the world helped us create the mess we live in, but it has long since turned its back on us and gotten busy with other crises elsewhere. In our hour of need, we find no friends to help us heal our country’’ (Fetouri, 2014).

The impact Libya’s allies have had on the situation within the country is one which divides opinion. Interestingly the removal of Gaddafi and the involvement of NATO in his ousting were universally welcomed, but crucially the failure of NATO to provide any lasting legacy or plan in their wake has altered the mind-set of ordinary Libyans. 

Apportioning The Blame

To apportion the blame of the current malaise within the country to outside factors is in itself short-sighted as the major issues within Libya today are dominated by internal factors (Pack, 2013). Analyzing and identifying the problem is just the start of the process, for Libya to emerge into a fully functional democratic nation its leadership must govern in a manner that integrates all sectors of a deeply divided society.

Clashes in Benghazi have dominated the country since 2012, with thousands killed and numerous groups fighting in the name of Libya (Morajea, 2014). The threat of bankruptcy looms increasingly likely as the clashes over oil continue to halt any previous progress made within the economy (Al Jazeera, 2014). 

Essentially Libya is in the midst of a fundamental struggle with its identity. The present situation cannot continue along its current trajectory without a complete failure of the Libyan state according to Mansour O El-Kikhia who opines that urgent action is required to establish a well-functioning government and a country that is both safe and secure (El-Kikhia, 2014).

In-Fighting & International Ambivalence

The future for Libya is deeply uncertain given the present climate that exists. The general public have grown increasingly disenchanted at the turbulence and chaos that has permeated across the nation since 2011. The primary issue that needs to be addressed is re-establishing law and order across the region and unifying the Libyan population behind a well-structured democratic process. 

In the midst of these enormous challenges is the backdrop of internal fighting, budgetary concerns and a lack of assistance from outside partners who promised much but delivered little after the fall of the previous regime. Hope still exists for Libya, but if the situation isn’t acted upon as a matter of urgency, we will soon be referring to Libya as a failed state and a haven for radical Islamists from where to poison the region.


Abiew, N. G.-O. &. F., 2013. Libya, Intervention, and Responsibility: The Dawn of a New Era?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Al Jazeera, 2014. Al Jazeera. [Online]
Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/countingthecost/2014/03/libya-heading-towards-bankruptcy-2014313173334276217.html

BBC, 2014. Libya profile. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13754897

El-Kikhia, M. O., 2014. Al Jazeera. [Online]
Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/03/libya-tale-two-regions-ship-201431651453444440.html

Fetouri, M., 2014. Almonitor. [Online]
Available at: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/libya-militia-chaos-friends-tripoli-business-state.html#

Fetouri, M., 2014. AlMonitor. [Online]
Available at: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/contents/authors/mustafa-fetouri.html

Kingsley, P., 2014. Libya: The calm before the storm that blew away Gaddafi. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/02/libya-gaddafi-calm-before-storm-photographs

Manfreda, P., 2012. Parliamentary Elections in Libya 2012. [Online]
Available at: http://middleeast.about.com/od/libya/a/Parliamentary-Elections-In-Libya-2012.htm

Morajea, H., 2014. Al Jazeera. [Online]
Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/05/benghazi-clashes-test-libya-new-government-201451865451626982.html

Pack, J., 2013. Exit Gaddafi: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution by Ethan Chorin. The Middle East Journal , 67(2), pp. 319-322.
Reuters, 2013. More than 40 killed in explosion at Libyan arms depot. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/10482490/More-than-40-killed-in-explosion-at-Libyan-arms-depot.html

Stephen, C., 2014. The Guardian. [Online]
Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/25/libya-revolution-democracy-confusion-voters

Washington Post, 2014. Obama: Elections mark ‘milestone’ for Libya. [Online]
Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-elections-mark-milestone-for-libya/2014/06/26/d1add3ea-fd43-11e3-beb6-9c0e896dbcd8_story.html

Zirulnick, A., 2014. Rogue Libyan general’s ‘coup’ against Islamists unleashes wave of violence. [Online]
Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/terrorism-security/2014/0605/Rogue-Libyan-general-s-coup-against-Islamists-unleashes-wave-of-violence

ISIL/ISIS Regional Analysis in Pictures June 2014 (Acknowledgements – Durham Specialist Risk Management)

Jun 25, 2014 1:05:00 PM 
(Acknowledgments to 3rd Party Sources called out below)

In a previous employment I worked in al-Anbar Province, Iraq. In 2010, we monitored a variety of Sunni militant groups, groups with different strategies and ideologies in the Sunni areas of the country. There was the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade, a group whose name refers to the 1920s revolution against British colonial rule in Iraq. Their goal was to establish a liberated and independent Iraqi state on an Islamic basis. An offshoot of the 1920s is Hamas al Iraq, the militant wing of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) who broke away in 2007. This group has a Sunni nationalist agenda and wanted to propel the IIP to being the prominent political party in Anbar. 

Fig 1: Iraqi Spec-Ops Convoy en route to Mosul

Jaysh Rijal al Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN) were felt by the US military to be the greatest long term threat to the stability of Iraq. JRTN operated to desabilise Iraq through attacks against security forces, prevent Iranian influence in the country, with the aim of restoring the Ba’ath Party and expelling foreign forces. This group was made up of former Saddam regime commanders and intelligence personnel under the New Ba’ath Party, a secularist political party, mixing Arab nationalist and socialist interests. Finally there were the Islamic fundamentalist militant groups, al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq, which has morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.

Fig 2: Vice News Field Report

See full article by Michael McCabe at:

Fig 3: Iranian Regional Sphere of Influence

Fig 4: Islamic State formerly ISIS/ISIL Regional Presence (not current)

Fig 5: The Kurd’s Regional Presence      

 Fig 6: Analysis of the Region known as the Levant                                    

Acknowledgement to copyright holder at http://info.durhamrisk.co.uk/blog/look-at-how-far-the-islamic-state-of-iraq-has-come-and-where-is-everyone-else

Durham Specialist Risk Management Blog

Our team is staffed principally by security experts with military and/or government intelligence backgrounds. They have had significant exposure to the private sector, often operating at the highest levels of business globally. Additionally, we have an extensive network of security and intelligence professionals which truly gives us global coverage. Our aim is to become the industry thought leaders on security and risk management, moving it into the 21st Century. 

Dispelling the "WILD WEST" myth surrounding Private Military Companies

Graham PenroseGraham PenroseOwner at TMG Corporate Service… (more) 

The challenges in setting up a Private Military Company or when a firm is being employed as Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel are more associated with the international compliance requirements rather than national ones, as the expectations are set and monitored by international bodies rather than by sovereign states – in order to avoid problematic local interpretations with respect to human rights and IHL (International Humanitarian Law) compliance. 

Dispelling the “Creation Myths” of the PMSC

Typically modern private military companies are founded in any number of different ways as is the case with any type of venture. Founders vary widely in the PMC sector and include civilian entrepreneurs, ex-military SOF specialists, ex-law enforcement professionals, ex-employees of defunct PMSC’s, security analysts, ex-government employees with applicable experience – as many permutations as you can shake a stick at. 

The Body Corporate 

The registration process and the administration issues associated with setting up a PMC are the same as any other body corporate in terms of compliance with company law and obligations with respect to governance as they apply in the jurisdiction in which the entity is registered. 


The motivation to start a new business in this area is often derived from the need to crystallize a structure to allow a group of loosely associated professionals to act as a single entity in pursuing an immediate business opportunity and the brand name / reputation develops from there or the business is wound down in an orderly fashion when the specific contract is completed. 

The Rules 

There are several international standard setting organizations that have, after consulting international forums and determining global consensus, crystallized certain expectations that the international community has when it comes to PSMC’s, PMC’c and PSC’s and how they are deployed and their behavior while “on mission”. 

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) is a Swiss government convened, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to both clarify international standards for the private security industry operating in complex environments, as well as to improve oversight and accountability of these companies. Based on international humanitarian and human rights law, the Code was developed through a transparent and inclusive multi-stakeholder process. Full details on the process are available in the ICoC Timeline.

The Code sets-out human rights based principles for the responsible provision of private security services. These include rules for the use of force, prohibitions on torture, human trafficking and other human rights abuses, and specific commitments regarding the management and governance of companies, including how they vet personnel and subcontractors, manage weapons and handle grievances internally.

The ICoC was signed by 58 private security companies from fifteen countries at a signing ceremony in Geneva on 9 November 2010. By signing, the companies publicly affirm their responsibility to respect the human rights of, and fulfill humanitarian responsibilities towards, all those affected by their business activities. They also commit to operate in accordance with the code. The ICoC has remained open for signature since the initial signing, and by 1 February 2013, the number of Signatory Companies had risen to 708 from 70 countries. The current list of Signatory Companies is available on the ICoC Signatory Companies page.

The signing of the ICoC also set the foundation for a second phase of standard-setting, implementation and institution building, including the establishing of external independent mechanisms for effective governance and oversight of the ICoC. As required by the code, a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was established, responsible for developing a proposal for the independent governance and oversight mechanism. Full details of the ongoing work are available on the Steering Committee and Working Groups page.

Aside from this institution building process, as a statement of the good principles that private security companies should be striving towards, the ICoC is having impacts in the better regulation of the industry. It is frequently referred to in national and international fora discussing these issues and has also become an important source document, used by a wide range of organizations, governments and associations as they set national and international standards, formulate procurement policies or draft legislation.

The 100 Series Rules™

The 100 Series rules have been developed for the benefit of the entire maritime industry and under-pinned by a thorough public international and criminal law legal review using an objective international law test of what is “reasonable and necessary” when force is used, as a lawful last resort, in self-defense.

This objective international legal test is deemed to be of a higher legal standard than that of subjective national legislative provisions for self-defense. The 100 Series Rules™ will not bind flag States as to their use, but instead provide a choice for their potential incorporation into national guidance as determined by respective governments and competent authorities.

In 2011 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) changed its stance on Shipping Companies employing Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) onboard Merchant Vessels and reported that it was a matter for Flag State Approval. The Oxford University Small Arms Survey of 2012 indicated that the percentage of ships employing armed guards rose from 10% to 50%.

The 100 Series Rules™ are a model set and example of best practice for maritime RUF. They complement current industry RUF guidance on the drafting of RUF, as well as supporting the requirements of ISO PAS 28007 as a Publicly Available Specification and international standard. 

The 100 Series Rules™ will go to providing an international model set of RUF as against which, Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) may be professionally trained, Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) may be audited and operator actions both measured and judged by competent authorities. The 100 Series Rules™ will not, however, provide any form of defence, indemnity or immunity whatsoever against civil or criminal liability when force has been used unlawfully.

  • RULE 100 In the event of any actual, perceived or threatened attack by third parties the Team Leader (TL) or, in the TL’s absence, other PCASP, shall advise the Master or (in the Master’s absence) the Officer of the Watch that he intends to invoke these Rules for the Use of Force.
  • RULE 101 Non-kinetic warnings may be used where there is a reasonable belief that a craft is displaying behavior(s) assessed to be similar to those of a potential attacker.
  • RULE 102 Firearms may be used to fire aimed Warning Shots when it is assessed by the TL or in the TL’s absence, other PCASP, that Warning Shots may deter an actual, perceived or threatened attack.
  • RULE 103 When under attack or when an attack is imminent, reasonable and necessary use of force may be used in self-defence, including, as a last resort, lethal force.

National Standards ISO PAS 28007

National Standards ISO Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 28007 (ISO/PAS 28007:2012) provides a set of guidelines that includes sector-specific recommendations. The guidelines have been put in place to allow organizations that provide Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) on board ships to demonstrate compliance with internationally accepted and recognized Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), in particular those with respect to the Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) – a highly emotive issue and a source of ongoing negative PR for the industry – as a result of the actions of a small number of unscrupulous operators.

To claim compliance with these guidelines, all recommendations (“should’s”) should be complied with. Compliance with ISO/PAS 28007:2012 can be by first, second and third party (certification). Where certification is used, it is recommended the certificate contains the words:

“This certification has been prepared using the full guidelines of ISO PAS 28007 as a Private Maritime Security Company providing Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel”. (Extract ISO Web Site)

The standard was specifically developed for organizations operating in the High Risk Area (ITF IBF HRA Designations 2012)  off the Horn of Africa providing security transits from Suez to South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. However, many of the certified or soon to be certified Private Maritime Security Companies equally apply the practices to operations in other parts of the world. The guidelines were developed via an abbreviated ISO process and will have to be reviewed before it becomes a full-fledged ISO Standard. ISO/PAS 28007 does not adopt the International Code of Conduct principles, which were developed for the land rather than maritime environment.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (“UKAS”) is the only national accreditation body that accredits auditing companies to certify to the standard. As of May 2014 only two certification bodies were actively certifying to ISO/PAS 28007: LRQA and MSS Global.

The introduction of the ISO/PAS 28007 is a welcome introduction to the industry as it lays out clear guidelines to PMSCs and PCASPs as to what the minimum standards are, as required by shipping companies and their respective Flags employing armed security on their vessels.

ANSI/ASIS 2012 & PSC.4-2013

ANSI/ASIS PSC.4-2013 is guidance for Quality Assurance and Security Management for Private Security Companies Operating at Sea. The guidance document explains how to implement ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 within the maritime environment. ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 contains four documents published in the ANSI/ASIS series that apply to Private Security Companies. ANSI/ASIS PSC.4-2013 is one of these documents.

The standard seeks to operationalize the International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for Private Security Service Providers within a formal structure familiar to businesses. That structure, with national and international supervision, provides auditable procedures for the development of the standard, certification to it, and monitoring of ongoing compliance. It incorporates elements of the Montreux Document.

Civilian Expectations 

The reputable firm is aware of and complies with the expectations set by a number of external bodies. It is a highly emotive subject and there are entrenched views on both sides of the debate with respect to the use of and need for deployment (especially by governments in Western democracies) of PMC / PSC / PMSC in conflict zones acting as proxies for sovereign forces. 

On one side of the debate and anti-PMSC, or “mercenaries” as he prefers to refer to the industry as, is former chairperson of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries Mr. José L. Gómez del Prado. See Mr. Del Prado’s interview with a group called GlobalResearchTV to understand that side of the debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQiT_Pf0Qzo

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A counter weight to that point of view is the association called The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) a Swiss government convened, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to both clarify international standards for the private security industry operating in complex environments, as well as to improve oversight and accountability of these companies. See About ICoC – for more information. 

The Montreux Document

The Montreux Document reaffirms the obligation on States to ensure that private military and security companies operating in armed conflicts comply with international humanitarian and human rights law. The document also lists some 70 recommendations, derived from good State practice. These include verifying the track record of companies and examining the procedures they use to vet their staff. States should also take concrete measures to ensure that the personnel of private military and security companies can be prosecuted when serious breaches of the law occur. This document is the product of an initiative launched cooperatively by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It was developed with the participation of governmental experts from Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iraq, Poland, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and the United States, in meetings convened in January and November 2006, November 2007, and April and September 2008. Representatives of civil society and of the private military and security industry were consulted. See the full document at The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.


In addition all reputable firms comply with the restrictions as imposed by OFAC, EAR & ITAR – Embargoed Countries, Entities and Persons – see OFAC, EAR & ITAR – Embargoed Countries, Entities and Persons for an understanding of how certain organizations and individuals are subject to trade sanctions, embargoes, and other restrictions under US law.

How will your firm be tracked globally?

By any number of UN bodies, governments, human rights advocates, investigative journalists and so on. By their nature firms of this kind are of interest to any number of government agencies due the potential impact they can have – in the hands of the unscrupulous – in terms of undermining the sovereignty of nations.

What concerns face a private military company founder?

Personal security, adverse media coverage, compliance, governance, command & control and so on – the complexity of operating in this domain is only touched on briefly in this answer to your question – it is not an industry for the faint hearted and at every turn motivations can and are misinterpreted and manipulated to the agenda of any number of externals.