DCAFProgrammes › Private Security Governance

Private Security Governance

Around the world, private actors play a range of different roles in providing security. These actors may reinforce or fill gaps in public security provision. However, in contexts of fragility where security sector governance is weak, private security actors which are not subject to democratic oversight may weaken the security of the state and its citizens.

One important aspect of security privatisation has been the growth of the commercial security industry. This global industry ranges from major multinational corporations to small-scale local companies. The scope of activities undertaken by these actors is equally diverse. Private security companies around the world play a prominent role in the protection of facilities, goods and persons. Private military and security companies (PMSCs) are a particular segment of the private security market, providing a range of services with a particular focus on conflict and post-conflict settings.

Security privatisation has significant implications for effective and democratically accountable security sector governance. As part of DCAF’s holistic approach to security sector reform and governance, DCAF’s private security governance programme focuses on three interlinked dimensions:

  • Promoting an effective legal and policy framework through regulation of international and domestic private security companies
  • Supporting innovative oversight mechanisms for the private security industry, both at the domestic and international level
  • Strengthening capacities of international and national security actors in the area of private security governance


In close cooperation with other divisions within DCAF, the private security governance programme provides the following services:

  • Applied and policy-oriented research on private security governance
  • Expert advice to international and domestic actors on regulation of private security services, including through legal / policy advice and sharing of good practices
  • Development and implementation of norms, standards and good practices, including practical tools and handbooks
  • Capacity building, with a particular focus on civil society organisations


Projects / Activities

Current projects:

1. Effective regulation of the international private security industry:

  • Support to the Swiss Initiative to regulate the international private security industry
    • Promotion and implementation of the Montreux Document: organisations of regional conferences and development of implementation tools as well as support to the establishment of the Forum of the Montreux Document states; 
  • Promotion and implementation of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Services Providers: capacity building activities for civil society organisations, expert meetings and outreach activities, as well as support to the establishment of the Association of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Services 
  • Supporting the development of other relevant regulatory initiatives, including:
    • Advisory services to the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries and participation in the discussions of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.
    • Contributing to private security industry initiatives on setting standards and codes of conduct of the sector
    • Engagement with related initiatives such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights which concerns good governance of private security

2. Effective regulation and governance of domestic private security industry:

  • Research project on “Private security in the Western Balkans” bringing together researchers from DCAF and four partner organisations in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe to develop research outputs and policy recommendations on private security company (PSC) regulation in Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Serbia
  • Expert contribution to an annual regional workshop on Private Security and Military Companies and the national security sector in Southeast Europe (Croatia)
  • Expert advice to OSCE headquarters and field offices on private security regulations

Key publications

Private security governance

Montreux Document