IPOA Annual Summit - October 28-30
Wed Oct 3, 2007 02:44

IPOA Annual Summit - October 28-30

IPOA's Annual Summit will be held in Washington, D.C. The event will focus on Communication, Cooperation and Coordination between actors in Conflict, Post-Conflict and Disaster Relief Operations.
Visit the Annual Summit Web Site...

The founder of the International Peace Operations Association, he is a specialist in African security issues and has written extensively on the regulation and constructive utilization of the private sector for international stabilization, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions. Mr. Brooks has testified before Congress, appeared on a range of national and international news programs, and has lectured at numerous universities and colleges. Previously, he has been an Adjunct Faculty member at American University and an Academic Fellow and Research Associate with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Johannesburg.
Native Fluent in English

Last Wednesday afternoon, amid news that Blackwater USA security contractors had killed 11 Iraqi civilians and wounded 12 others in a Baghdad firefight, members of the antiwar group Code Pink gathered outside the Washington office of the International Peace Operations Association, a trade group that represents a who's who of the private military industry. There to greet them when they arrived was Doug Brooks, the IPOA's founder and president, who'd been tipped off to the protest earlier that day by an anonymous caller. "He was on the street with an assistant with an armful of IPOA magazines," said Code Pink's Gael Murphy, who heads the group's Washington office. "He had a smile on his face the entire time as though it were some kind of industry expo day, and he kept [smiling], even as we were asking him about some pretty dreadful matters." Brooks spent about an hour fielding questions and even escorted some of the protesters upstairs to see his office. I asked Murphy if Brooks had managed to change any minds. "No," she said. "We were not fooled just because [Blackwater] has a network to cover them—that they're somehow more legitimate than they were the day of the killings."

NOTE: Only those Friends of IPOA who wish to have their name publicized are listed here.

Brooks first became intrigued by private military contractors as a doctoral candidate at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1990s, where he indulged his childhood interest in military history by studying Vietnam and Southeast Asian security. Realizing he was "writing papers that could have been written 20 years earlier," he soon tired of the subject. It was then that he began reading newspaper articles about Executive Outcomes, a private mercenary company operating in Africa. He changed his academic focus and, shortly thereafter, managed to win a fellowship to the South African Institute of International Affairs, where he began churning out papers extolling the promise of "private military companies"—a controversial term he has since abandoned—and their potential use in international peacekeeping operations.

Brooks now manages a staff of full-time employees and interns. Members pay annual dues ($5,000 for logistics contractors, $15,000 for private security companies), which account for some 60 percent of the IPOA's annual operating budget. In return, members receive permission to display the IPOA logo on their marketing materials. As a condition of membership, the companies must agree to adhere to the association's code of conduct—stressing concepts like human rights, ethics, transparency, and accountability. If violations occur, they are subject to the IPOA's "enforcement mechanism." This is composed of a complex, multi-tiered system of committees that review potential infractions and determine what, if any, penalty should be imposed. It sounds much tougher than it actually is. After all, the worst punishment the IPOA can dole out is expulsion from the association, which Brooks calls "the commercial kiss of death." This has yet to happen, which probably speaks less to the good behavior of private military contractors than to an inherent conflict of interest in the association's oversight process: The organization is financially dependent on the companies it claims to be overseeing.

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