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.

Throughout the drafting process of the ICoC, the Geneva Academy provided academic expertise to ensure that international legal standards were appropriately reflected in the document.

TEAM

Picture of Alice Priddy

Alice Priddy

Senior 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

Colombia, 2010: Mountains in the Valle del Cauca region, between Santander de Quilichao et Popayan. FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) combattants walking next to native houses. Military Briefings

Landmines and Other Explosive Devices: From a Tactic of War to a Threat to Peace

November 2018, 18:30-20:00

In this Military Briefing, co-organized with Geneva Call, panelists will discuss the operational challenges and opportunities of turning guerrillas into deminers.

Read more

Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

7 February - March 2019

This short course discusses the extent to which states may  limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

Read more

A wide view of the UN Security Council Short Course

Sanctions in Public International Law

25 January - February 2019

This short 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

Libya, Misrata, Tripoli Street. After a battle between members of the armed opposition and government forces. Project

The War Report

Started in December 2013

As an annual publication, The War Report provides an overview of contemporary trends in current armed conflicts, including key international humanitarian law and policy issues that have arisen and require attention.

Read more

A computer graphic simulation of a Future Protected Vehicle Project

Autonomous Weapon Systems under International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

Completed in January 2015

This project examined the legal requirements that the use of autonomous weapon systems would need to comply with in a number of scenarios envisaged by proponents of increasing autonomy in weapon systems.

Read more