UN Working Group on Mercenaries: are you ever going to investigate the influx of paid fighters into Syria?

In its report on 1 July 2013, the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination published the findings from its visits to Botswana, Ghana, the Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The Working Group’s next report is due to be presented at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council, and will be based on visits to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

With regards to the Working Group’s consultations with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, mentioned in paragraph 8 of its report, there still exists a grave concern at gross violations committed by anti-government forces in Syria, such as those denounced by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as “truly atrocious acts” in her statement on May 14th. We therefore would like to ask the Working Group whether any steps are being considered towards establishing the size and number of rebel forces in Syria which are operating on a compensatory basis, thereby fitting the description of mercenaries as provided in paragraph 5 of its report.

Furthermore, we note that the Commission of Inquiry on Syria did mention the presence of “foreign fighters among some armed groups” in last 2012 report, 21/50, paragraph 26 and paragraph 10 of Annex I. Every subsequent report on the Syrian crisis has pointed to the increase of foreign anti-government forces, leading to the exacerbation of the conflict.

We therefore ask: are steps being taken to monitor the traffic of mercenary forces into Syria and, if such traffic is indeed confirmed, the actions of countries which are supplying fighters committing gross violations on a compensatory basis?

A further point worth stressing is the current presence in the Gulf States of what is arguably the biggest PMSC company in the world, variously known as Academi, Xe Services or Blackwater. We would like to ask the Working Group whether it intends to monitor this company’s “activities in all their forms and manifestations” “and their impact on human rights” – in accordance with Resolution 2005/2 by the Commission on Human Rights, especially in view of the company’s past violations, the high volatility of that region and – once again – the sphere of action in Syria which such proximity to the country can afford a mercenary force of such magnitude and resources.