Companies of Past and Present: Lessons from the East India Company on the Use and Regulation of Private Forces Today

Authors: Katerina Galai Published date: 15-01-2016 Status: Published

This article considers issues of international legal classification in the historical and contemporary context of the use of private military by states and non-governmental organisations. There is more to these questions than contemporary practices can reveal, so this enquiry begins with a historical approach, tracing the lineages of private security through centuries. Particular focus will be on the status and composition of the colonial army of the English East India Company, drawing parallels with the current private military company (PMC) regulation. This article raises questions about the customary notions of ‘public’ and ‘private’ in order to draw attention to the changing nature of military norms and to build a stronger case for regulation. Building upon British colonial activities in India, the article demonstrates the importance of maintaining control and revising codification of new irregular military forces. Keywords: Army of the East India Company, codification of irregular military forces, Private Military Companies, public and private violence.

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