International Convention against the Recruitment,
Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries
General Assembly resolution 44/34

New York, 4 December 1989
  • Introductory Note
  • Procedural History
  • Documents
  • Status
F o r t h c o m i n g
Introductory note to be published

By resolution 44/34 of 4 December 1989, the General Assembly adopted and opened for signature and ratification or for accession the International Convention against the Recruitment Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, which was annexed to the resolution. Pursuant to its article 19, paragraph 1, the Convention entered into force on 20 October 2001, the thirtieth day following the date of the deposit of the twenty-second instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General.

In a letter to the Secretary-General dated 5 December 1979, Nigeria, acting on behalf of a number of Member States, requested that an item entitled “Drafting of an international convention against activities of mercenaries” be added to the agenda of the General Assembly’s thirty-fourth session. The General Assembly adopted resolution 34/140 of 14 December 1979, by which it decided to consider the drafting of an international convention to outlaw mercenarism in all its manifestations. At its thirty-fifth session, in 1980, on the recommendation of its Sixth Committee, the General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries composed of thirty-five Member States and by 17 February 1989, the drafting group had produced the draft articles of the Convention.

The Convention represents an endeavour by the international community to outlaw mercenarism in all its manifestations and consists of 21 articles. The definition of a mercenary is based on Article 47 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), but goes further than Article 47 of Protocol I by being applicable in “armed conflict” (Article 1, paragraph 1) and in “any other situation” (Article 1, paragraph 2). According to Article 5 of the Convention, States Parties are not to recruit, use, finance or train mercenaries and each State Party shall establish jurisdiction over any of the offences set forth in the Convention (Article 9).


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Following the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960), the General Assembly adopted several resolutions declaring, inter alia, the practice of using mercenaries against movements for national liberation and independence punishable as a criminal act, and called upon States to take the necessary measures to prevent the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries in their territory and to prohibit their nationals from serving as mercenaries (see, inter alia, resolution 2465 (XXIII) of 20 December 1968, resolution 2548 (XXIV) of 11 December 1969 and resolution 2708 (XXV) of 14 December 1970). Similarly, the Security Council condemned any State which persisted in permitting or tolerating the recruitment of mercenaries and the provision of facilities to them with the objective of overthrowing the Governments of Member States (see, inter alia, resolution 239 (1967) of 10 July 1967, resolution 405 (1977) of 14 April 1977 and resolution 419 (1977) of 24 November 1977).

Nigeria, in co-operation with other African States, had introduced a definition of mercenaries at the 1977 Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts. The definition, incorporated as article 47 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, denied mercenaries the status of combatants or prisoners of war. In a letter to the Secretary-General dated 5 December 1979, Nigeria, acting on behalf of a number of Member States, requested that an item entitled “Drafting of an international convention against activities of mercenaries” be added to the agenda of the General Assembly’s thirty-fourth session. The General Assembly adopted resolution 34/140 of 14 December 1979, by which it decided to consider the drafting of an international convention to outlaw mercenarism in all its manifestations and invited, inter alia, all Member States to communicate to the Secretary-General their views and comments in this regard (Report of the Secretary-General on the drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries A/35/366 Add.1–3, 28 August 1980).

At its thirty-fifth session, in 1980, on the recommendation of its Sixth Committee, the General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries composed of thirty-five Member States, and requested, inter alia, the President of the General Assembly, after due consultation with the chairmen of the regional groups, to appoint the members of the Committee on the basis of equitable geographical distribution and representing the principal legal systems of the world (resolution 35/48 of 4 December 1980). The President of the General Assembly subsequently informed the Secretary-General that he had appointed as members of the Ad Hoc Committee thirty-four of the thirty-five States to be appointed by him (A/35/793/Add.1).

During its first session, held from 20 January to 13 February 1981, the Ad Hoc Committee decided to set up a working group of the whole in charge of drafting the convention. The work on the elaboration of the convention thus began, on the basis of a working paper submitted by Nigeria on the draft international convention against the activities of mercenaries (A/AC.207/L.3), together with a communication from the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago (A/AC.207/L.4), taking into consideration the information submitted by Member States compiled pursuant to General Assembly resolution 35/48 (A/AC.207/L.2 and Add.1) and the documents circulated by Benin (A/AC.207/L.5) (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, first session, 20 January to 13 February 1981 (A/36/43)).

At its thirty-sixth session, in 1981, on the recommendation of its Sixth Committee, the General Assembly took note of the first report of the Ad Hoc Committee by resolution 36/76 of 4 December 1981, and decided, inter alia, that the Ad Hoc Committee should continue its work, taking into consideration the suggestions and proposals of Member States, bearing in mind the views and comments submitted to the Secretary-General, and those expressed at the thirty-sixth session of the General Assembly during the debate in the Sixth Committee devoted to the consideration of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee.

From 1982 to 1985, the Ad Hoc Committee held its second to fifth sessions, being annually reconvened by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Sixth Committee (see resolutions 37/109 of 16 December 1982, 38/137 of 19 December 1983 and 39/84 of 13 December 1984). During these sessions, the Ad Hoc Committee decided to establish Working Group A, which dealt with issues of definition and with the question of the scope of the convention, and Working Group B, which dealt with all other issues relevant to the future of the convention. The reports of Working Groups A and B, together with a draft convention submitted by France in 1983 (A/AC.207/L.15) and one by Cuba submitted in 1985 (A/AC.207/L.22), were included in the Ad Hoc Committee’s annual reports to the General Assembly (A/37/43, A/38/43, A/39/43 and A/40/43). At its fourth session, in 1984, the work of the two working groups (A/AC.207/1984/CRP.3 and A/AC.207/1984/CRP.4) was put together in a single document entitled “Consolidated Negotiating Basis of a convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries” (A/AC.207/1984/CRP.5). By resolution 39/84 of 13 December 1984, the General Assembly requested the Ad Hoc Committee to use the draft articles contained in such document as a basis for future negotiation on the text of the proposed international convention.

Although convened by General Assembly resolution 40/74 of 11 December 1985, the Ad Hoc Committee did not hold its sixth session in 1986 due to a financial crisis at the United Nations. The General Assembly renewed the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee for the sixth to eighth sessions, held from 1987 to 1989, in which the Ad Hoc Committee transacted its business in the context of a working group of the whole (resolutions 41/80 of 3 December 1986, 42/155 of 7 December 1987, 43/168 of 9 December 1988 and 44/34 of 4 December 1989). During its sixth session, held from 19 January to 6 February 1987, the Ad Hoc Committee achieved tangible progress in the performance of its task through the preparation of the draft articles contained in the “Second Revised Consolidated Negotiating Basis of a convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries” (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee, A/42/43). At its seventh session, held from 25 January to 12 February 1988, the Working Group decided to continue the review of the draft articles and to refer certain articles that had reached a sufficiently advanced stage to a drafting group. The outcome of the work of the drafting group was reflected in the “Third Revised Consolidated Negotiating Basis of a convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries” (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee, A/43/43).

By 17 February 1989, during the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee, the drafting group had produced a document entitled “Draft articles for an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries”. At this point, the Ad Hoc Committee was of the view that efforts could be made to produce the final text of a convention in a relatively short time. It therefore recommended that the Sixth Committee, at the forty-fourth session of the General Assembly, entrust a working group with the task of settling outstanding issues (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee, A/44/43).

Upon the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee, on 25 September 1989, the Sixth Committee set up an open-ended working group and a drafting group, entrusted with the preparation of a draft preamble and draft final clauses for the future convention. The Working Group met three times between 26 September and 2 November 1989. At its final meeting, on 2 November 1989, the Working Group decided to submit to the Sixth Committee for consideration and adoption the draft convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries (Report of the Working Group, A/C.6/44/L.9).

On 21 November 1989, the Sixth Committee adopted the draft resolution on this item without a vote (Report of the Sixth Committee, A/44/766) and recommended it to the General Assembly for its adoption in plenary. By resolution 44/34 of 4 December 1989, the General Assembly, having considered the draft convention prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee and finalized by the Working Group, adopted and opened for signature and ratification or for accession the International Convention against the Recruitment Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, which was annexed to the resolution. Pursuant to article 19, paragraph 1, the Convention entered into force on 20 October 2001, the thirtieth day following the date of the deposit of the twenty-second instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General.


Text of the instrument

Selected preparatory documents
(in chronological order)

General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 (Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples)

Security Council resolution 239 (1967) of 10 July 1967

General Assembly resolution 2395 (XXIII) of 29 November 1968 (Question of Territories under Portuguese Administration)

General Assembly resolution 2465 (XXIII) of 20 December 1968 (Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples)

General Assembly resolution 2548 (XXIV) of 11 December 1969 (Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples)

General Assembly resolution 2708 (XXV) of 14 December 1970 (Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples)

General Assembly resolution 3103 (XXVIII) of 12 December 1973 (Basic principles of the legal status of the combatants struggling against colonial and alien domination and racist regimes)

Security Council resolution 405 (1977) of 14 April 1977

Security Council resolution 419 (1977) of 24 November 1977

Letter from Nigeria to General Assembly, Request for inclusion in agenda of additional item entitled “Drafting of an international convention against activities of mercenaries”, 5 December 1979 (A/34/247 and Corr.1.)

General Assembly, Verbatim records of the 99th and 104th plenary meetings of the thirty-fourth regular session, held from 7 to 14 December 1979 (A/34/PV.99 and 104)

General Assembly resolution 34/140 of 14 December 1979 (Drafting of an international convention against activities of mercenaries)

Report of the Secretary-General, Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries (A/35/366, Add. 1-3, 28 August 1980)

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 20 to 24, 51 and 56 of the thirty-fifth regular session, held, respectively, from 14 to 20 October, 17 and 20 November 1980 (A/C.6/35/SR.20-24, 51 and 56)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/35/655, 26 November 1980)

General Assembly resolution 35/48 of 4 December 1980 (Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries)

Note by the Secretary-General of 15 January 1981 (Appointment of members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries) (A/35/793 and Add.1)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, first session, 20 January to 13 February 1981 (A/36/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 16 to 24 and 57 of the thirty-sixth regular session, held, respectively, from 8 to 19 October, and 24 November 1981 (A/C.6/36/SR.16-24, 57)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/36/727, 1 December 1981)

General Assembly resolution 36/76 of 4 December 1981 (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, second session, 25 January to 19 February 1982 (A/37/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 9 to 15, 53 and 56 of the thirty-seventh regular session, held, respectively, from 5 to 13 October, 23 and 26 November 1982 (A/C.6/37/SR.9-15, 53 and 56)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/37/648, 3 December 1982)

General Assembly resolution 37/109 of 16 December 1982 (Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries).

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, third session, 2 to 26 August 1983 (A/38/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 19, 21 to 29, 50, 51, 54, 57, 60 to 61 of the thirty-eighth regular session, held, respectively, from 19 to 31 October, 22 November to 2 December1983 (A/C.6/38/SR.19, 21 to 29, 50, 51, 54, 57, 60 and 61)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/38/669, 7 December 1983)

General Assembly resolution 38/137 of 19 December 1983 (Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, fourth session, 30 July to 24 August 1984 (A/39/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 49 to 57, and 64 of the thirty-ninth regular session, held, respectively, from 16 to 27 November, and 6 December1984 (A/C.6/39/SR.49-57, 64)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/39/777, 10 December 1984)

General Assembly resolution 39/84 of 13 December 1984 (Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, fifth session, 8 April to 3 May 1985 (A/40/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 13 to 17, 44 and 48 of the fortieth regular session, held, respectively, on 14, 16, 17, 18 October, and on 21 and 27 November 1985 (A/C.6/40/SR.13-17, 44, 48)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/40/979, 6 December 1985)

General Assembly resolution 40/74 of 11 December 1985 (Drafting of an international convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries)

General Assembly resolution 41/80 of 3 December 1986 (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, sixth session, 19 January to 6 February 1987 (A/42/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 12 to 15, and 55 of the forty-second regular session, held, respectively, on 2 to 6 October, and on 23 November 1987 (A/C.6/42/SR.12, A/C.6/42/SR.13, A/C.6/42/SR.14, A/C.6/42/SR.15, A/C.6/42/SR.55)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/42/816, 30 November 1987 )

General Assembly resolution 42/155 of 7 December 1987 (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, seventh session, 25 January to 12 February 1988 (A/43/43).

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 22 to 24, 46 to 48, and 51 of the forty-third regular session, held, respectively, from 26 to 28 October, and on 22, 23, 25 and 29 November 1988 (A/C.6/43/SR.22, A/C.6/43/SR.23, A/C.6/43/SR.24, A/C.6/43/SR.46, A/C.6/43/SR.47, A/C.6/43/SR.48, A/C.6/43/SR.51)

Report of the Sixth Committee to the General Assembly (A/43/884, 1 December 1988)

General Assembly resolution 43/168 of 9 December 1988 (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries)

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, eight session, 30 January to 17 February 1989 (A/44/43 and Corr.1).

Report of the Working Group of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, “Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Drafting of an International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries” (A/C.6/44/L.9, 13 November 1989)

Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Summary records of meetings Nos. 41, 42 and 44 of the forty-fourth regular session, held, respectively, from 14, 15 and 21 November 1989 (A/C.6/44/SR.41, A/C.6/44/SR.42, A/C.6/44/SR.44)

Report of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly (A/44/766, 22 November 1989)

General Assembly, Verbatim record of the 72nd plenary meeting of the forty-fourth regular session, held on 15 December 1989 (A/44/PV.72)

General Assembly resolution 44/34 of 4 December 1989 (International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries)

The Convention entered into force on 20 October 2001. For the current participation status of the Convention, as well as information and relevant texts of related treaty actions, such as reservations, declarations, objections, denunciations and notifications see:

The Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General