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 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

Separation barrier between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories Event

PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: NEW TRENDS AND CHALLENGES

February 2018, 12:30-14:00

Michael Sfard, the most prominent Israeli human rights lawyer and author of the book ‘The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine and the Legal Battle for Human Rights’, will address the current situation of human rights defenders in Israel.

Read more

Cover page of the Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict Event

Book Launch: ‘The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict’

March 2018, 12:00-13:15

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin will present her new book ‘The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict’, which focuses on the multidimensionality of gender in conflict.

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

North Kivu province, Kitchanga downtown. The insanitary conditions next to the market worsens the situation of the residents affected by the recent violence. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

1- March 2018

This course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

Read more

Colombia, Mountains in the Valle del Cauca region, between Santander de Quilichao et Popayan. FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) combattants. Project

Rules of Engagement

Completed in January 2009

This project looked at how to enhance compliance by armed non-state actors with international norms, taking into account the views both of the actors themselves and the experiences of those engaged in dialogue with them.

Read more

Bethlehem, Bittar Illit settlement. Detail of the West Bank Barrier Project

The Law of Military Occupation

Completed in January 2004

This research project looked at the protection of civilian populations subject to the control of a foreign army by analyzing the link between the international law of military occupation and human rights.

Read more