YCISS seminar focuses on burgeoning private security companies

Organizations and individuals are increasingly turning to private security companies to guard their safety in foreign countries, but what is the potential impact of these companies on global security? That is one of the questions Christopher Spearin, chair of the Department of Security and International Affairs at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, will address at the YCISS Afternoon Seminar Series on Thursday, April 24.

Sponsored by the York Centre for International & Security Studies, the seminar, titled "Private Security Companies and Stability Operations: Presence, Prospects, and Problems", takes place in 280 York Lanes, from 12:30 to 2pm.

Spearin’s research concerns change in militaries, global security governance, non-state actors, mercenaries, the privatization of security and Canadian foreign & defence policy. He is also interested in aerospace and international conflict. Prior to joining the Canadian Forces College in 2003, Spearin was the Department of National Defence R.B. Byers Post-Doctoral Fellow at YCISS.

Right: Christopher Spearin

During his talk, Spearin will discuss issues regarding stability operations as private security companies are increasingly being called upon to provide a measure of safety. Stability operations cover a number of areas including humanitarian and development assistance, security sector reform and humanitarian demining. Many different types of actors are involved in these areas, says Spearin, with the most recent newcomer being the international private security company.

What sort of tasks do private security companies perform in stability operations, why are they interested in doing so and why are clients asking these companies to perform these tasks are just a few of the questions Spearin will delve into. He will also discuss the characteristics and composition of these companies and the problems that arise in handing over important security tasks to the private sector.

Exploring these questions will place into sharp focus the potential impact and controversial nature of these companies and how, in a related manner, the dynamics of and the relationships forged in contemporary stability operations are changing.

Spearin’s work has been published in a variety of forums, including Canadian Foreign Policy, Canadian Military Journal, International Peacekeeping, Journal of Conflict Studies, Civil Wars, World Defence Systems, Contemporary Security Policy, International Journal, International Politics and Parameters.

For more information, visit the YCISS Web site.