Time for the United States to sign and ratify the United Nations Mercenary Convention

Signing and ratifying this convention would be primarily symbolic for the United States. Federal law already forbids the United States from hiring or employing mercenaries.

However, there is no statute prohibiting United States Citizens from engaging in mercenary activities overseas, other than on behalf of nations at war with the United States.

Currently, two Americans have likely been captured by Russia in Ukraine and will likely be executed. Conversely, Russia has been employing mercenaries of its own.

The United States should be condemning mercenary activity by any nation, but cannot morally do so until it formally gets its own house in order on the issue.

Signing and ratifying the above Convention would be step 1. Step 2 would be the passage of Federal laws enforcing the said Convention and criminalizing mercenary activities. To that end:

  1. Mercenaries would be classified as unlawful combatants.
  2. United States Citizens convicted of engaging in mercenary activity would be subject to up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  3. If the mercenary was determined to have killed anybody while acting as a mercenary, it would be classified as felony murder, that is an unlawful killing committed while engaged in the unlawful conduct of being a mercenary. The penalty would be up to and including capital punishment.
  4. Criminal enhancements would exist for certain situations, such as the activity being contrary to the foreign or economic interests of the United States.
  5. It would also authorize penalties for foreign mercenaries engaged against the United States or its allies.
  6. Additionally, it would severely limit the role of private security firms in overseas combat theaters.

This should not be controversial. This is an issue where the United States can take the unequivocal moral high ground without any downside.

No. If they want to go fight, more power to them. But the USG doesn’t help them in anyway.


They can put the United States in disadvantaged political positions abroad and domestically.

Only if the government tries to save them.


Isn’t better to avoid that political issue all together? There will always be some fraction of the electorate pressuring the government to save them.

absolutely not.

The United States should not attempt to rescue expend ANY effort on mercenaries. They went there of their own free will and they accepted the potential consequences of their own free will.

The United States should, however, condemn mercenaryism and should state that it disassociates itself from the actions of its citizens acting as mercenaries.

I would rather throw the entire UN into the East River during a record breaking blizzard than have anything to do with them.


Hell with all that. Let the little spunks do their thing, especially if it’s free to us.

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I firmly believe that the only value of the debating society know as the UN, is that the UN ambassadors of nations with no official relations can accidentally bump into each other in the dining hall. Beyond that it has no value. We should withdraw member status and instead only maintain observer status, with the appropriate funding reduction. We would still have the benefit of the chance unofficial communication without the faux displays of UN significance or the cost.

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For those that object to the UN or to signing the Convention, the United States can still do all the things I mentioned in the OP without signing the Convention.

Mercenaries are of no help to the United States and in many cases, they destabilize regions to the detriment of the United States.

War is immoral.

War for profit is just ■■■■■■■ filthy.

I agree that the U.S. should not employ mercenaries.

But I don’t reall see a problem with U.S. citizens wandering off and fighting for, say, Ukraine.

Would you mind elaborating on why this is bad?

Define mercenary. Is it anyone who goes to another country to fight, like some Americans went to Canada to become allied pilots before the US entered WWII, or does it require a certain amount of payment?




what about when or if they are?

By prohibiting citizens? No.

Here is one legal definition:

As defined by Article 47 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, a mercenary is any person who:

is specially recruited locally or abroad,
does, in fact, participate directly in the hostilities,
is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that party
is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of a territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
has not been sent by a State that is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.


Don’t agree, I see no reason for our government to expend resources of any kind helping them either.


Veterans fighting for Ukraine was looked upon favorably in countries around the world. Is it ok when it’s free and they’re not being paid?

A growing number of US veterans are seeking to fight alongside Ukraine against Russia, per the NYT.
For many American veterans, the call to service in Ukraine’s dire situation is too great to ignore.
James, a medic who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, told The Times that he couldn’t “stand by” and watch Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

One would think a Navy enthusiast would know about Privateers.