Mercenaries have gone corporate. The United Nations Mercenary Convention, signed in 2001, defines and places limits on what constitutes mercenaries. Although there are notable holdouts, the position of the UN is that mercenarism is against international humanitarian law. But this hardly seems to matter because, by exploiting loopholes in international law along with some creative “lawyering,” the modern mercenary now operates with impunity. With enough paperwork cloaking them, private military and security companies work in the shady cracks of the justice system, where they flaunt their mercenary role with no fear of punishment. No matter what they now call themselves, they are soldiers of fortune.
The public remains largely unaware that these so-called “security companies” now quietly operate around the world. G4S, for example, is the third largest private employer on Earth, yet most people have never heard of it. Companies like these often provide straightforward services such as prison or event security. But increasingly, the line between security and quasi-military operations has been blurred as corporations take on ever more military-capable assignments. Companies in this line of work staff themselves with ex-Special Forces, presumably for their skills in combat.