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Private Security Governance

Private actors are increasingly used to provide security, military and intelligence services around the world. They have the potential to significantly impact on the maintenance of security as well as the protection of, and respect for, human rights. This poses significant challenges to existing regulation, raising questions not only about what standards should govern this industry but also how to effectively oversee and hold private military and security companies (PMSCs) accountable to these standards. DCAF supports a number of initiatives aimed at meeting these challenges.


  • Fostering transparency and accountability in private security governance, including compliance with international norms and practices.
  • Developing legislative and institutional frameworks including the Montreux document and the International code of Conduct for Private Security for effective democratic oversight of the private security sector.
  • Promoting participation of actors in the private security field in cooperation with states in policy formulation.

Types of work

  • Training and capacity-building, including the development of training curricula and training courses for private security personnel and civil society organizations working in the private security sphere
  • Policy advice and guidance, as well as technical assistance on request to private security providers and their employers.
  • Development of tools and knowledge products (handbooks, manuals) to facilitate the transfer of norms and good practices.
  • Monitoring the existing laws and regulations applicable to PMSCs on an international, sub-regional, national and sub-national level, and cooperating with other organisations – including the United Nations – in efforts to monitor and regulate these companies.

Who do we work with?

  • Private security and military companies
  • Democratic institutions responsible for private security oversight, including parliaments and their defence and security committees
  • Civil society organizations
  • International / regional organisations


DCAF publishes the Yearly Book on Private Actors and Security Governance

DCAF supports Swiss government and the ICRC in finalising 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

 (ICoC) is signed by 58 private security companies from 15 countries. The ICoC was developed under a Swiss government mandate that is facilitated and led by DCAF

DCAF and the Temporary Steering Committee develop an Oversight Mechanism to support compliance with the ICoC by member companies

39 states endorse The Montreux Document. More than 357 private security companies from more than 55 countries have signed the ICoC

Current and Recent Projects

Key Publications

Progress and Opportunities, Five Years On: Challenges and Recommendations for Montreux Document Endorsing States (2013)

The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies: Proceedings of the Regional Workshop for North East and Central Asia (2012)

The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies: Proceedings of the Regional Workshop for Latin America (2011)

UN Use of Private Military and Security Companies: Practices and Policies Åse Gilje Østensen (2011)

The Privatisation of Security in Failing States: A Quantitative Assessment Željko Branović (2010)

Private Military & Security Companies: Future Challenges in Security Governance Anne-Marie Buzatu, Benjamin S. Buckland (2010)

Private Military and Security Companies and Gender (Tool 10) Sabrina Schulz, Christina Yeung (2008)

Private Military and Security Companies and Gender (Practice Note 10) Megan Bastick, Kristin Valasek (2008)

Regulating Private Security Companies Hans Born, Marina Caparini, Eden Cole (2006)

Humanitarian Non-Governmental Organizations and International Private Security Companies Christopher Spearin (2006)

Private Actors and Security Governance Alan Bryden, Marina Caparini (2006)

Private Military Companies DCAF Backgrounder (2006)