Methods of work

7. At its first session, the Working Group discussed and adopted a document outlining its methods of work. Those methods take account of the specific features of the mandate of the Working Group on Mercenaries under Commission resolution 2005/2.

A. Functioning of the Working Group

8. Also at its first session, the members of the Working Group decided to elect the Chairperson-Rapporteur for one year, at its October session, taking due account of the need for rotation among the geographical regions.

9. When it is determined that a country situation requires a visit, and following an invitation from the Government concerned, the Working Group may conduct such a visit.

10. During the course of its deliberations, when dealing with individual cases or situations, the Working Group will render opinions which will be incorporated in its reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

B. Implementation of the mandate of the Group

11. One of the elements of the mandate of the Group is to study, identify and monitor current and emerging issues, manifestations and trends of mercenaries, mercenary-related activities and activities of private military and private security companies which have an impact on human rights in general, including the right of peoples to self-determination. In the discharge of its mandate, the Working Group is guided by the relevant international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant international instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2) as well as, when appropriate, the standards contained in the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries; the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto; the Declaration of Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Model Law "On Counteracting Mercenarism", as well as other relevant instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

12. Within the terms of its mandate and in order to encourage further protection of human rights against current and emergent threats from mercenaries, mercenary-related activities and activities of private military and security companies, the Working Group will endeavour to elaborate concrete proposals and advisory opinions on possible new standards, general guidelines or basic principles. In addition, as requested by the Commission, the Working Group will continue the work undertaken by the previous Special Rapporteurs on the strengthening of the international legal framework for the prevention and sanction of the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries, taking into account the proposal for a new legal definition of mercenary. The Working Group will also compile, analyse, publish and disseminate national, regional and international legislation on mercenarism and related activities. It will also look into the possibility of utilizing the Internet for public accessibility of these materials.

13. The Working Group will identify and prepare studies on emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding mercenaries, mercenary-related activities and activities of private military and security companies.

14. As a general rule, within the meaning of resolution 2005/2, the Working Group will examine situations where mercenaries, mercenary-related activities and non-State actors, including private military and private security companies, impede the enjoyment of human rights or interfere with the self-determination of peoples and the constitutional and social order of States, either as part of security measures, or in armed conflict or in any other situation. The Working Group will also examine, as a special category, situations where children are used as mercenaries or involved in mercenary-related activities.

15. The Working Group will formally, and members of the Working Group will informally seek the opinions of and contributions from, and engage in consultations with Governments, relevant State organs, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as non-State actors, academic institutions and individuals.

C. Submission of communications to the Working Group and consideration of the communications

1. Submission of communications to the Working Group

16. Individual communications shall be submitted in writing and addressed to the Secretariat, giving the family name, first name and address of the sender and, if desired, his/her telephone and/or fax numbers, or any other acceptable means of contact, as well as any other information making it possible to identify the person, as well as his/her legal status. As far as possible, each case shall be presented separately. In order to facilitate the Group's work, it is hoped that communications will be submitted using the model questionnaire available from the Working Group's secretariat.

17. Communications may be addressed to the Working Group by a State, State organ, intergovernmental and non-governmental organization (NGO), or the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives, or any other relevant source.

18. In the interest of ensuring mutual cooperation, communications shall be brought to the attention of the Government concerned and its reply shall be brought to the attention of the source of the communication for its further comments. Those shall be transmitted by the Chairperson of the Group or, if he/she is not available, by the member designated by the Chairperson. In the case of Governments, the letter shall be transmitted through the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva . It shall request the Government to reply within 60 days after having carried out such inquiries as may be appropriate so as to furnish the Group with the fullest possible information.

2. Action taken on communications

19. In the light of the information obtained, the Working Group will take the appropriate action.

20. For those cases where private military or private security companies are involved, the opinions rendered by the Group shall be transmitted to the Government concerned with a copy, as appropriate, to the company involved. Three weeks after their transmittal to the Government they shall be sent to the source.

21. The opinions rendered by the Group shall be brought to the attention of the Human Rights Council in the report of the Working Group.

22. The Working Group shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that Governments inform it of the follow-up action taken on the recommendations made, thus enabling it to keep the Council informed of the progress made and of any difficulties encountered in implementing the recommendations, as well as of any failure to take action.

D. Urgent action procedure

23. A procedure known as "urgent action" may be used in the following cases:

(a) Where there are sufficiently reliable allegations that human rights violations are being perpetrated by mercenaries, as a result of mercenary-related activity or of activities of private military and security companies;

(b) There are particular circumstances that warrant an urgent action, even when no such threat is alleged to exist.

E. Coordination with other human rights mechanisms

24. Wishing to contribute to strengthening the good coordination that already exists between the various United Nations bodies working in the field of human rights, the Working Group will coordinate with other mechanisms as appropriate.

Excerpt from A/61/341