The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination was established in July 2005 pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2005/2. It succeeded the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the use of mercenaries, which had been in existence since 1987. The Working Group is composed of five
independent experts, of balanced geographical representation.
Since 2005, the Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the Working Group several times, most recently in 2019 for a period of three years through resolution
42/9. The General Assembly also regularly adopts resolutions on the use of mercenaries that touch on the activities of the Working Group, most recently through resolution
74/138 in 2019. The Working Group is mandated to:
Monitor mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations;
Study and identify sources and causes, emerging issues, manifestations and trends with regard to mercenaries and mercenary-related activities and private military and security companies and their impact on human rights, particularly on the right of peoples to self-determination.
- Continue the work already carried out by previous mandate holders on the
strengthening of the international legal framework for the prevention and sanction of the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries;
participate in other subsidiary bodies of the Human Rights Council considering issues related to the use of mercenaries and mercenary-related activities in all their forms and manifestations, including private military and security companies.
In carrying out its mandate, the Working Group:
a) Transmits communications to Governments and other actors with regard to specific allegations of human rights violations involving mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, or private military and security companies;
country visits to examine the impact of mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, or private military and security companies on the enjoyment of human rights in the respective country, and submits reports to the Human Rights Council on the findings of the visit, including concrete and constructive recommendations to the Government and other actors to address areas that may benefit from improvement;
annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the activities of the mandate and specific thematic issues related to mercenaries, mercenary-related activities, and private military and security and companies.