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Vol 39 No 11

Published 29th May 1998


Sierra Leone

Private armies, public relations

Awkward questions are being asked about private security companies' growing power

Underlying the political storm in London about the ‘Arms to Sierra Leone’ affair (AC Vol 39 No 10) is a central question about the privatisation of British foreign policy. To what extent can policy-making and implementation (even in countries of little strategic interest) be entrusted to private military and mining companies, albeit ones with extremely close links to the UK security establishment? Several members of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs’ Committee don’t like the trend and are determined to use the independent enquiry into the affair announced on 18 May by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to uncover the extent of their government’s clandestine relationship with the web of companies around Sandline International.

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