United Nations Mercenary Convention

The United Nations Mercenary Convention (formally, the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries) is a 2001 United Nations treaty that prohibits the recruitment, training, use, and financing of mercenaries. At the 72nd plenary meeting on 4 December 1989, the United Nations General Assembly concluded the convention as its resolution 44/34. The convention entered into force on 20 October 2001,[1] and has been ratified by 34 countries.

Countries with large militaries that have not ratified the convention include China, France, India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Definition of a mercenary

Article 1 of the Convention has the following definition of a mercenary:

1. A mercenary is any person who:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party;
(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

2. A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:
(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;
(b) Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation;
(c) Is neither a national nor a resident of the State against which such an act is directed;
(d) Has not been sent by a State on official duty; and
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of the State on whose territory the act is undertaken.
UN Mercenary Convention[1]

One time Judge Advocate Todds S. Milliard has argued that the convention and Article 47 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) are designed to cover the activities of mercenaries in post colonial Africa, and do not address adequately the use of private military companies by sovereign states.[2]

Signatories and parties

As of January 2016, the convention had been ratified by 34 states.

Below are the states that have signed, ratified or acceded to the convention.[3][4]

Country Signing date Ratification date Notes
Italy February 5, 1990 August 21 1995
Seychelles March 12, 1990
Zaire March 20, 1990 Signed as Zaire; successor state is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Nigeria April 4, 1990
Maldives July 17, 1990 September 11, 1991
P.R. Congo July 20, 1990 Signed as the People's Republic of the Congo; successor state is the Republic of the Congo.
Ukraine September 21, 1990 September 13, 1993 Signed as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Morocco October 5, 1990
Suriname February 27, 1990 August 10, 1990
Uruguay November 20, 1990 July 14, 1999
Germany December 12, 1990
Barbados December 13, 1990 July 10, 1992
Belarus December 13, 1990 May 28, 1997 Signed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Romania December 17, 1990
Cameroon December 21, 1990 Jan. 1, 1996
Poland December 28, 1990
Togo February 25, 1991
Angola December 28, 1990
Cyprus July 8, 1993
Georgia June 8, 1995
Turkmenistan September 18, 1996
Azerbaijan April 12, 1997
Saudi Arabia April 14, 1997 With reservations.
Uzbekistan January 19, 1998
Mauritania February 9, 1998
Qatar March 26, 1999
Senegal July 9, 1999
Croatia March 27, 2000
Libya September 22, 2000
Serbia March 12, 2001 January 14, 2016 Signed as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Costa Rica September 20, 2001
Mali April 12, 2002
Belgium May 5, 2002 With reservations.
Guinea June 18, 2003
New Zealand Sept. 22, 2004
Liberia September 16, 2005
Moldova February 28, 2006 With reservations.
Montenegro October 23, 2006
Peru March 23, 2007
Cuba September 2, 2007
Canada January 1, 2008
Syria January 19, 2008 With reservations.
Venezuela November 12, 2013

See also


  1. 1 2 International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries Archived February 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. A/RES/44/34 72nd plenary meeting 4 December 1989 (UN Mercenary Convention) Entry into force: 20 October 2001Archived February 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Milliard, Todd S.; Overcoming post-colonial myopia: A call to recognize and regulate private military companies(PDF), in Military Law Review Vol 173, June 2003. At the time of publication Major Milliard was a Judge Advocate in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army. Page 5. Paragraph 1
  3. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebSign?ReadForm&id=530&ps=P
  4. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebSign?ReadForm&id=530&ps=S
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