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Ryan M. Scoville, Toward an Accountability-Based Definition of Mercenary, 37 Geo. J. Int’l L. 541 (2006). Posted with permission of the publisher, The Georgetown Journal of International Law © 2006.

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37 Georgetown Journal of International Law 541 (2006)


Mercenary violence is an increasingly serious threat to international security. From a legal perspective, the development of this threat is problematic because the international treaties that regulate "mercenaries" operate on a flawed definition of the concept. Even the most recent definition neither accounts for changes in global security over the past decade nor reflects the fundamental problem with mercenaries - the fact that they are not state-accountable actors. These deficiencies have contributed to the spread of mercenary activity by complicating treaty enforcement and undermining state support for the current law. This Note therefore proposes a new definition of "mercenary." The proposed definition expands the range of activity in which mercenaries participate and abandons elements of the existing definition that do not relate to accountability.

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