Last week, President Trump pardoned the Blackwater contractors who were involved in the heinous crime of civilians’ killing in Baghdad in 2007. UN Rights experts say pardon of four contractors over Iraq killings has undermined international humanitarian law. The truth is that the Trump endorsed pardon is all against the set norms of international humanitarian law, including the Intentional Code of Conduct (ICoC) stipulated for the private security firms. International law experts argue that ‘’ensuring accountability for such crimes is fundamental to humanity and to the community of nations … Pardons, amnesties, or any other forms of exculpation for war crimes open doors to future abuses when States contract private military and security companies for inherent state functions’’. ‘’Pardoning the Blackwater contractors is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families,” said JelenaAparac, Chair of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries. “These pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level,” Aparac continued.The Geneva Conventions “oblige States to hold war criminals accountable” even when acting “as private security contractors”, the UN experts said, reminding that the men were legally tried and convicted for the crimes. In 2015 the US courts found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted of voluntary and attempted manslaughter President Trump pardoned all four on 22 December. And yet not surprisingly, the pardons for the former Blackwater contractors have met with sharp criticism from the US civil rights experts including the military persons such as Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the top American officials in charge of the U.S. policy in Iraq at the time of the 2007 killings, who called it “hugely damaging, an action that tells the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes with impunity” in a joint statement obtained by Reuters. The massacre took place on Sept. 16, 2007, in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. One of the victims was a medical student who died with his mother. Two were boys aged 9 and 11. According to the US justice department, at about noon that day several of the contractors opened fire in and around Nisoor Square, a busy roundabout that was immediately adjacent to the heavily-fortified Green Zone. When they stopped shooting, at least 14 Iraqi civilians were dead – 10 men, two women and two boys, aged nine and 11. Iraqi authorities put the toll at 17.TheIraqi police and witnesses argued that the contractors opened fire first, shooting at a small car driven by a couple with their child that did not get out of the convoy’s way as traffic slowed. The UN Rapporteurs have chartered grave concern that by permitting private security contractors to operate with impunity in armed conflicts The human rights expert noted that the adoption of a new international legal instrument within the UN provides a clear framework to effectively monitor abuses and violations of human rights committed by private military and security companies and provide an independent avenue to compensate victims of such violations. The human rights expert stated that the prosecutions of Blackwater contractors signal that human rights violations committed by private military and security companies cannot remain unpunished and provide a strong deterrent against their repetition.“There can be no justice without effective accountability and redress mechanisms for victims,” Ms. Elizabeth Karska of the UN working group on human rights stressed. It is also argued, “States have a responsibility to ensure that victims and their families have equal and effective access to justice, as well as adequate, effective and prompt reparation for the harm suffered”. The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. The International Code of Conduct(ICoC) is rightly applicable to the three pillars: representing states, private security companies (PSCs) and civil society organisations (CSOs). The ICoC principles can help CSOs to engage with PSCs to encourage them to provide security services in a responsible manner that respects the rule of law and human rights. The ICoC defines a common set of principles for PSCs and lays the groundwork for translating these principles into standards and mechanisms of governance and oversight: these principles can guide CSO advocacy and awareness-raising activities. The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers seeks to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in regions where the rule of law has been undermined. Its oversight and governance mechanism is based in Geneva. The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) defines industry rules and principles based on human rights and international humanitarian law. The said code of conduct enjoys the support of private security companies, various industry associations and humanitarian and civil society organisations.The UN Rapporteurs have chartered grave concern that by permitting private security contractors to operate with impunity in armed conflicts, States would be encouraged to circumvent their humanitarian law obligations by outsourcing core military operations to the private sector. Arguably, with regard to the issue of internal disciplinary system and compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflicts, it is interesting to note that some private companies pledge in their public communication that they respect international law, especially human rights and humanitarian law. Therefore, the International Peace Operation Organization (IPOA), the organization that is promoting the role of private companies, has adopted a code of conduct that states that: Regulations annexed to the Fourth Hague Conventions of 18 October 1907 (hereinafter “The Hague Regulations”), Article 4 A (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Geneva Convention and Article 43 of Protocol I. In addition to situations where they would be integrated in the regular armed forces of a belligerent, personnel of private companies would be categorized as combatants if they formed part of militias belonging to a party to the conflict and fulfilled the conditions provided by Article 1 of the Hague Regulations, and Article 4 A (2) of the Third Geneva Convention. The above-discussed legal arguments notwithstanding, so far, the US administration has been showing a double standard on the presidential pardons, the case of DrAfia Siddiqui is a speaking example in this behalf. Notably,Prime Minister Imran Khan in a 2019 interview, shortly after his meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House,mentioned Dr. Afia Siddiqui’s case and his Government’s unflinchingcommitment to negotiate her release. Her repatriation case is pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Sindh High Court. Her Mercy Petition was sent to President Trump in 2020. Still, Islamabad hopes that the Biden administration will pay attention to her petitionon the humanitarian grounds.