In the past two decades, the responsibilities delegated to private actors — especially but not only in the United States — have grown in depth and breadth. The much-discussed role assumed by Blackwater (now rebranded ‘Xe’) and other contractors in Iraq is in many ways the tip of the privatization iceberg. Many sectors traditionally regarded as ‘public’ have experienced varying degrees of privatization, from the operation of public utilities to the administration of prisons, from intelligence activities to peacekeeping. Drawing on insights from work on privatization, regulation, and accountability in the emerging field of global administrative law, this book examines private military and security companies through the wider lens of private actors performing public functions. This introductory chapter sets the context for the volume and outlines the contributions made by the various chapters.
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