The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

Completed in December 2010

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers is the result of an active collaboration between members of the private security industry, the Geneva Academy, Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs and Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).

It aims to promote respect for international law and standards among private service providers by clarifying international standards for the industry, and to improve their oversight and accountability.

Background

The increased use of private security companies (PSCs) to provide security and military services poses significant challenges to existing oversight and accountability mechanisms. PSCs offer many services relevant to the protection of and respect for human rights (HR), be they military, security, contingency or intelligence services, to name a few.

The ‘Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict’, finalized in September 2008, succeeded in establishing itself as a reference text with regard to PSCs. It has also encouraged members of the private contractor industry to reflect intensively on their role and the positive contribution they could make regarding respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and HR standards.

Consequently, the industry embarked on a process to take standard-setting and oversight further by developing an International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for their services. To be effective, it was recognized that such an international industry standard should be based on IHL and international HR law, developed through an industry-driven multi-stakeholder process and overseen by an independent institution with sufficient means to hold those who violate the standards accountable.

TEAM

Picture of Andrew Clapham

Andrew Clapham

Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Andrew Clapham is an expert in international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. His current research focuses on the role of non-state actors in international law and related questions in human rights and humanitarian law.

Picture of Alice Priddy

Alice Priddy

Researcher

Alice Priddy's current main research areas concern the rights of persons with disabilities during and in the immediate aftermath of armed conflict.

Picture of Stuart Casey-Maslen

Stuart Casey-Maslen

No image available

Scott Jerbi

OUTPUT

Academy Briefing No. 4, The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (August 2013), presents a commentary on the ICoC provisions, analyzing each of the Code’s sections paragraph by paragraph and explaining how various provisions relate to existing rules of IHL and HR. It also cross-references the Articles of Association for the Code’s oversight mechanism.

Publications

Cover of the Briefing No4: The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

Briefing N°4: The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

August 2013

Stuart Casey-Maslen, Andrew Clapham, Scott Jerbi, Alice Priddy

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Street Art in Bogota News

Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict: Field Trip to Colombia

March 2017

Our researcher Alice Priddy visited Colombia last week as part of our project ‘Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict’.

Read more

Vover page of the In-Brief No.7 Human Rights Obligations of Armed Non-State Actors: An Exploration of the Practice of the UN Human Rights Council  News

How the UN Human Rights Council Addresses Armed Non-State Actors: Key Challenges and Way Forward

February 2017

Ten years after the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council, our new publication highlights the current challenges related to the Council’s approach to armed non-state actors and proposes recommendations to better address this phenomenon.

Read more

Codes on a computer Event

Current Challenges in Cyber Operations

October 2017, 18:15-20:00

This panel will address current challenges related to cyber operations. Panelists will discuss some of the conclusions and implications of Tallinn 2, take stock of where we stand and what challenges remain.

Read more

Coverpage of the book ‘Out of the Shadows’ Geneva Academy Wednesday

Out of the Shadows: Recommendations to Advance Transparency in the Use of Lethal Force

September 2017, 18:00-19:30

This Geneva Academy Wednesday will evaluate 15 years of U.S. counterterrorism strikes, analyse recent developments, and assess the Trump Administration’s approach to the use of force, transparency, and accountability.

Read more

UN Security Council Short Course

Sanctions in Public International Law

12 January - February 2018

This course provides an introduction to the regime of sanctions under international law and their effectiveness in addressing contemporary forms of conflict. It addresses the questions related to state responsibility, the pacific settlement of international disputes and the role of the International Court of Justice.

Read more

UN Mission patrols disputed area in Sudan Short Course

Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict and Fragile Situations

13 April - May 2018

This course provides a concise and systematic treatment of the peacebuilding process in post-conflict and fragile situations. It adopts a holistic definition of peacebuilding that combines the socio-political issues with economic growth in a sustainable development perspective.

Read more

Central African Republic, Ouham province, village of Ouogo. International Humanitarian Law dissemination session to members of the Peoples' Army for the Restoration of Democracy. Project

From Words to Deeds: Exploring the Practice of Armed Non-State Actors and its Impact on the Implementation of International Law

Started in January 2017

This project aims to understand and study the practice and views of armed non-state actors on key norms of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Read more

ICC Trial Chamber VIII declares Mr Al Mahdi guilty of the war crime of attacking historic and religious buildings in Timbuktu and sentences him to nine years’ imprisonment Project

Modes of Liability for International Crimes

Started in January 2015

This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.

Read more