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

Banner Geneva Academy Wednesday

Book Launch: ‘The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law’

November 2017, 18:30-20:00

This event marks the launch of Dr Katharine Fortin’s new book ‘The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law’.

Read more

Syria, Old city of Aleppo. Destructed houses situated next to the frontline stand side by side alongside intact houses full of occupants just a few meters away from the frontline Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

11 January - February 2018

This course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

Read more

East Timor, Dili, burnt houses Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts and Other Contested Issues

26 April - May 2018

This course examines one of the main purpose of international humanitarian law (IHL), which is to mitigate human suffering caused by war. It enables a careful evaluation of the various IHL rules intended to help protect vulnerable persons, such as civilians and prisoners of war, as well as property during armed conflict.

Read more

Libya, Misrata, Tripoli Street. Combattants carefully move into a building. Project

Armed Non-State Actors and the Protection of Civilians

Completed in March 2010

This research project looked at the reactions to norms of more than 30 armed groups worldwide.

Read more

A wheelchair completely destroyed after the bombing of a civilian area Project

Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict

Started in May 2016

This project aims to ensure better protection of and assistance for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict or its aftermath by identifying legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict, and the policies and practices required to put these obligations into effect.

Read more