The European Union thanks the Working Group and takes note of the concerns the report has highlighted.
As the report stated, the commercialisation of humanitarian aid and the use of private military and security services in humanitarian action is on the rise and may impact humanitarian operations, their principles, and the potential for abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law. This poses a concerning challenge to the concept of security both as a public good and as a state function. Additionally, the report addresses oversights and transparency concerning the operations of PMSCs in the context of humanitarian aid. Where states exercise oversight over their armed forces when deployed overseas, the same extent of control does not necessarily apply to PMSCs.
The European Union and its Member States adhere strictly to the universal humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence that set out the framework for humanitarian assistance, and respect and promote human rights and call for accountability for international humanitarian law violations and human rights violations and abuses.
In line with the EU policy, the use of military protection, including that of armed escorts, is an extreme precautionary measure to be used only when the ability of humanitarian actors to reach or access those most in need is restricted, and on request of humanitarian organisations. The use of PMSCs should always be a last resort when other staff security mechanisms are unavailable, inadequate or inappropriate.
Finally, we would like to recall that the Working Group’s work would prove to be more effective if its scope was focussed more clearly on mercenaries and mercenaries-related activities, which are clearly defined under international humanitarian law.
I thank you.