Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 October 2012
PMSCs often work in zones of armed conflict alongside and in conjunction with the armed forces of their hiring state, performing many of the same functions in the context of the same overall mission. Like national soldiers, PMSC personnel may engage in inappropriate or harmful conduct that is inconsistent with the primary obligations of their hiring state; they may commit war crimes, for example, or violate human rights. Yet it will generally be more difficult to establish the responsibility of the hiring state for violations committed by a PMSC employee than it would be if a national soldier of that state were to engage in the same conduct. This discrepancy could provide an incentive for states to outsource their military and security activities in order to reduce the risk that they will incur responsibility for violations of international law in armed conflict.