Should private firms be in charge of security in some countries?

pscAlex Mwange, a BBC listener, suggests that African countries outsource responsibility for security in the area to private firms. These firms have been used in Africa before. In Sierra Leone,the government hired a private security company to help it during the civil conflict. But as this paper shows it hasn’t been without its problems.

Alex suggests this debate take place on our sister program Africa Have Your Say and you can follow that debate on the BBC website.

He uses the example of the DRC saying that President Joseph Kabila has been in power for six years now and the Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the largest UN peace keeping missions in the world. Yet residents in the east of the country are still being raped, maimed, robbed and killed by various militia. So he suggests private companies to do what the state and UN peace keeping missions can’t do.

This was the reaction Buya in Monrovia, he says:
“I think the security of a state must be the responsibility of the Government of that State…”

But if the state can’t provide the proper security for its people (in Africa or anywhere else in the world),is it ok for a country to hire a private company to do that job?Would you want your country to outsource its security operations?

20 Responses to “Should private firms be in charge of security in some countries?”

  1. 1 anu_D
    August 17, 2009 at 10:41

    There are some things that are so fundamentsl to keeping a stamp of control on your business or nation that cannot be out-sourced.

    Like in matter sof nations…home-land internal, border sucrities, finance management…are things that if out-sourced will lead to the government being seen a toothless ( by dissenting powers in country) or puppett in the hand of foreign powers…losing respect in the eyes of public

  2. 2 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 17, 2009 at 11:09

    If a country cannot sufficiently protect its citizens then it is a failed state. Protection of citizens is a fundamental function of any government.

    Any attempt to outsource security will lead to corruption and abuse by those in power and those charged to to do the security. Locals will not want be told what to do by foreigners because presumably the private firms would be companies from Europe and US like Xe(Blackwater).

    Another major factor is that it will undermine the ability for countries to develop their own security. The cons far outweigh the pros in this one.

  3. August 17, 2009 at 11:23

    What if the government cannot afford the outsourced security services in time to come?

    Private security companies can only be a temporary measure.
    Long term, the state needs to take responsibility of its own security and the quality of government is a huge factor. If the government is ineffective, no amount of peacekeeping forces can prevent bloodshed.

  4. 4 Banda Masiku
    August 17, 2009 at 11:39

    To promote efficiency in a country, there is no need to hire private firms because their main aim is to make profit at the expense of the state.It is therefore the Governments responsibilty to ensure that it has its own security Companies who would better know how to handle the problems relating to security in the country.

  5. 5 Ramesh, India
    August 17, 2009 at 12:13

    I wouldn’t call it a private firm, rather, a private army. Very bad idea. I think, the UN should try to address such requirements.

  6. 6 patti in cape coral
    August 17, 2009 at 12:57

    No, I don’t think it’s a good idea. A private company is motivated only by profit, not a bad thing per se, but not a good thing when it comes to a country’s security.

  7. August 17, 2009 at 12:58

    Privatisation of security firm has proved themselves here to be of more harms than good to the public and therefore goverments across the world needs to watchout otherwise the would risks been punish through ballot boxes by their citizens who suffers at the hands of private security agencies.

  8. August 17, 2009 at 13:32

    Absolutely not. Security must be the responsibility of the state and the people of that state. Even home grown security firms would not be satisfactory unless they were totally controled by a minister,police or the military. But to employ foriegn firms to handle security would be inviting mercenaries in. A country requires loyal people to secure the state.

  9. 9 Dennis Junior
    August 17, 2009 at 14:17

    This is what I wrote on the same issue on BBC Have Your Say:

    I think that the AU (African Union) should do limited experiment with outsourcing its security operations to private firms ….But, keep the ultimate decision of Security and safety in the organisation, than allowing it to be outsource…

    I think that the AU and others should consider the idea of BBC WS Listener Alex Mwange ideas.

    And what about extending the idea to peaceful but lawless countries? (I think it is a good idea that should be looked at..But, I have my doubts.)

    =Dennis Junior=

  10. 10 Tom D Ford
    August 17, 2009 at 15:41

    “For Profit” security is one of the stupidest ideas possible, it drives security to the lowest possible quality for the highest possible profit, the shareholders constantly demand ever increasing growth in profits and that results in ever decreasing quality. It attracts criminal mercenary types who are only in it for the money and who protect each other from prosecution for any wrongdoing done by the private security firm to the public.

  11. 11 Tom K in Mpls
    August 17, 2009 at 17:04

    Generally it is a bad idea. But sometimes short term problems require extreme measures. The single biggest problem with this option is the enormous money (resources) that leaves the country. But depending on how they are used, they can be the factor that brings the required change.

  12. 12 T
    August 17, 2009 at 18:06

    This has been happening in many aspects in the States for a long time. (everything from security contractors to privatizing jails nationwide). And it’s only going to continue because Obama’s Administration refuses to stop it.

  13. August 17, 2009 at 22:39

    The right of determination is of paramount value.

    In case the State fails to protect its citizen., private firms can be hired for a time but more than that, citizen should be trained to protect themselves

  14. 14 Dennis Junior
    August 18, 2009 at 04:20

    Additional information to my posting @ August 17, 2009 at 14:17

    I thought at one time, the African nations had mercenaries that got into trouble across the network e.g. Equiatorial Guinea when Margaret Thatcher son was involved…

    =Dennis Junior=

  15. 16 scmehta
    August 18, 2009 at 08:33

    The private firms or companies can definitely be of immense help in maintaining law and bringing order, in matters related to a national internal security. However, in these kind of matters, they have their own limitations; they can only help the governmental or international law-enforcing agencies, but cannot and should not be empowered to have a free-hand to enforce any rules and regulations upon the people,They can be grouped/mixed with the law & order-enforcers to get the jobs done. Besides, they can also be of immense help in gathering intelligence about the miscreants and the anti-socials, by mixing with the locals and creating sources to gather information

  16. August 18, 2009 at 14:24

    Should 130,000 UN ,EU private firms with World Tariff Trade Export import Shipping be incharge of Afghanistan Security with ISAF forces and Multi national forces holding 29m peoples country and resources ? Who had given them licence or ownership to operate Afghanistan Co.Ltd.

  17. 18 Shettimaabba
    August 18, 2009 at 17:46

    Already this power of given information of criminal activities exists and extended to civilians,its bad to commercialise security by profitising issues which is purely regimental.

  18. August 19, 2009 at 19:20

    Any nation that can not provide security for its people is useless.

  19. 20 J. Jones
    September 7, 2009 at 22:15

    Have private firms ever been successful in returning a state back to its stability or is the insecurity perpetuated. For the case of Angola and other African countries it has not worked. Executive Outcomes, which is the mercenary firm in Africa has failed continuously yet made millions in profits. For this case i think hired guns are a negative.

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