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International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) is a Swiss government convened, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to both clarify international standards for the private security industry operating in complex environments, as well as to improve oversight and accountability of these companies.

Based on international humanitarian and human rights law, the Code was developed through a transparent and inclusive multi-stakeholder process.

The Code sets-out human rights based principles for the responsible provision of private security services. These include rules for the use of force, prohibitions on torture, human trafficking and other human rights abuses, and specific commitments regarding the management and governance of companies, including how they vet personnel and subcontractors, manage weapons and handle grievances internally.

The ICoC was signed by 58 private security companies from fifteen countries at a signing ceremony in Geneva on 9 November 2010. By signing, the companies publicly affirm their responsibility to respect the human rights of, and fulfill humanitarian responsibilities towards, all those affected by their business activities. They also commit to operate in accordance with the code. The ICoC has remained open for signature since the initial signing and the number of Signatory Companies is steadily increasing. The current list of Signatory Companies is available on the ICoC website.

The signing of the ICoC also set the foundation for a second phase of standard-setting, implementation and institution building, including the establishing of external independent mechanisms for effective governance and oversight of the ICoC. As required by the code, a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was established, responsible for developing a proposal for the independent governance and oversight mechanism.

Aside from this institution building process, as a statement of the good principles that private security companies should be striving towards, the ICoC is having impacts in the better regulation of the industry.  It is frequently referred to in national and international fora discussing these issues and has also become an important source document, used by a wide range of organizations, governments and associations as they set national and international standards, formulate procurement policies or draft legislation.

The Swiss government is the convener of the initiative. The Privatization of Security Programme at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) operates under a mandate from Swiss government to facilitate the development of the ICoC and maintain the ICoC website. The ICOC website is available at http://www.icoc-psp.org/