Establishing Norms for Private Military and Security Companies

By Warner, Daniel | Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Establishing Norms for Private Military and Security Companies


Warner, Daniel, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy


SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

In the Spring of 1992, in a lovely setting in Sweden just north of Uppsala, I attended a conference of the Life & Peace Institute on "The Challenge to Intervene: A New Role for the United Nations?" The setting was lovely. Sigtuna is on beautiful Lake Malaren and the hosts made every effort to see to our comfort.

The actual conference, as I remember, was not as stimulating as the surroundings. What I do remember vividly, however, some 20 years later, was that I made a comment at a plenary session, followed by a comment by a small distinguished gentleman with a decidedly Indian accent. The session soon ended and the distinguished gentleman abruptly walked up to me and announced, "Let's go for a walk; we are going to be friends for life."

I was neither shocked nor offended by the comment. Indeed, we went for a long walk along the lake, and continued our conversations bilaterally throughout the conference. In spite of all the efforts of the conference organizers, the conference will not go down in history as having made a major contribution to peace in the world. However, the distinguished gentleman with a decidedly Indian accent had made an astute prediction: Ved and I became friends for life. Whether it is in Denver or somewhere else in the United States, whether it is in Geneva or somewhere else in Europe, whether it is in serious discussions about the world or exchanges about family; the distinguished gentleman with a decidedly Indian accent was more than prescient and we have become more than just friends.

We have not been able to see each other often, but Ved's friendship has inspired me in several ways. First, he has opened a competition with me that he doesn't even know about. When Ved was younger, he vowed to visit every country in the world. He did quite well, except that at the time of his travels there were certain large confederated countries that eventually broke up, such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. When I first visited Ashgabat and Almaty, and Skopje and Ljubljana; I was so proud because I felt that I was in places Ved had never seen. I had one upped him.

Second, on my first visit to Denver, Ved introduced me to many people; all of them his best friends, including federal judges. But what I remember most was the way he introduced me to the people working in the university cafeteria as his best friends as well. I had not seen that kind of empathy and openness since I was on the campaign trail with Bobby Kennedy. Everyone admired and loved Bobby, and I sensed that all the people at the university admired and loved Ved in many of the same ways, although Ved was not looking for their votes. He was genuinely concerned about them, as they were about him.

Finally, I can mention one other Nanda inspiration. Several years ago, Ved had an emergency operation that should have required some serious R&R. Instead of resting, he resumed teaching at the university in a wheel chair with 67 stitches still in his leg. Soon after, against doctor's orders and to the consternation of his family and the Chancellor, he flew to Geneva for a meeting of an organization that will remain nameless, but which, like the Sigtuna conference, will never change the world. When I met Ved at the airport and tried to scold him for his irresponsible behaviour, he looked at me with his doleful eyes and said, "Danny, they asked me to come and I just couldn't let them down."

From speaking to youngsters in elementary schools in Denver to explaining international politics in his tuxedo to the Lions Club; from participating in doctoral seminars for Ph.D. students at prestigious universities to vulgarizing complex problems in public media including print and television; and from consulting with the most grass-roots nongovernmental organizations throughout the world to advising leaders at the highest levels in the innermost circles of governments, Ved has always been there for all who asked, and in this way, he is also an inspiration to all of us. …

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