Risk and Private Military Work
To date geography has paid scant attention to private military contracting. Other disciplines have studied the topic, but their work is state-centric. In this paper I examine private military contracting through a geoeconomic lens and make four arguments. First, the heightened security risks of the contemporary era cannot be explained solely as a result of states’ decision to cede their monopolies over the means of violence. We must also examine the private military firms that have created new monopolies and the strategies they use to manage and distribute risk. Second, the industry has increased risk in the world system by offloading security risks onto their employees. This “responsibility over rights” management model provides inadequate human rights training and battlefield adjudication procedures for contractors and civilians alike. Third, the geography of private military work does not always conform to the global division of labor between north and south. Instead, private military work creates a class of work that cuts across social and geographic divides. Finally, while activists should encourage states to regulate the industry, they should also push it to reform employment practices since private military firms are increasingly global in scope.