Ten years ago, on 10 November 2010, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers was signed by 58 private security companies at a ceremony held near Geneva. The Code established ground-breaking standards to ensure that private security companies respect human rights and international humanitarian law in complex environments, such as fragile states and places where governance is weak. It was the culmination of two years of intense discussion and debate between governments, companies and civil society – championed by Switzerland and supported by DCAF.
The Code is part of a holistic approach to regulating the private security sector, standing alongside the Montreux Document, which addresses the international law obligations of governments to regulate private military and security companies. The Code’s anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on important achievements and key challenges to come.
One of the most significant achievements has been the creation of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA), which oversees compliance with the Code. The ICoCA has put in place rigorous certification, monitoring, and complaints procedures, measurably raising industry standards for private security companies. ICoCA has also increased membership and played an important outreach role in building awareness of the Code in the private sector and among civil society and intergovernmental organizations.
DCAF has worked in partnership with ICoCA to support these developments. We have also developed innovative programmes to promote Code implementation on the ground. Through advisory services to more than 25 states, international and regional organisations, DCAF has built bridges between the international initiative, and national action. From Africa to Latin America, industry, clients, national authorities and civil society have been brought together to work towards an effective, well managed and accountable private security industry.
…AND MUCH WORK TO BE DONE
Despite the progress made, much remains to be done to continue to improve the situation on the ground. For DCAF, three areas are particularly important:
DCAF has worked for more than fifteen years to promote good governance in the private security industry. On the 10th anniversary of the Code of Conduct, we take great pride in having played a part in its growth and have faith in its potential to continue to promote better regulation in the industry, and safer communities for all.