Public Lecture: Ethics, Humanitarian Intervention and Private Military and Security Companies

Date/Time: Wed 06 Nov / 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location: ACJC Seminar Room, Level 8, Building H

Professor Mervyn Frost

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Since the end of the Cold War there has been an increase in the number of humanitarian military interventions undertaken in foreign countries. These are wars of choice, waged in frail states, with a view to preventing gross human rights abuses. They have proved controversial and have had mixed results. In them, increasing use has been made of private military and security companies. There is every reason to anticipate that the use of such companies will increase in future. They will operate in secret and beyond the public domain. What are we to make of the privatisation of force and its deployment abroad? This new phenomenon marks a sharp break from our existing practice in which states have held a monopoly on military might. Private military companies present us with legal, political and ethical questions. This lecture discusses the ethical ones. Are there good ethical reasons for states making use of private military and security companies? Conversely should citizens in democracies have ethical qualms about the use of such companies? What might these be? What institutional solutions are available in democracies to deal with them? As the scale of operation of private military and security companies increases, as governments’ expenditure on them grows, it becomes increasingly important that a proper public debate take place about the ethical contribution such companies can make towards promoting freedom and diversity in world politics.


Mervyn Frost: Biographical Details

Professor Mervyn Frost , BA (Stellenbosch), MA (Stellenbosch), B.Phil. (Oxford), D.Phil. (Stellenbosch) was until July 2013, Head of the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London. He was educated at the University of Stellenbosch and subsequently, as a Rhodes Scholar, he read Politics at Oxford. He held lectureships at the University of Cape Town and at Rhodes University. He was appointed to the Chair of Politics at the University of Natal in Durban in 1986. In 1996 he was appointed Professor of International Relations at the University of Kent in Canterbury. His research interest is in the field of ethics in international relations. His publications include: Towards a Normative Theory of International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1986), Ethics in International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Constituting Human Rights: Global Civil Society and the Society of Democratic States (London, Routledge, 2002) and Global Ethics: Anarchy, Freedom and International Relations (Routledge, 2009). He has published in Political Studies, The Review of International Studies, International Relations, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Theoria and Millennium: Journal of International Studies.


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