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The growing use of private military and security companies in conflict settings: How to reduce threats to civilians?

4 August, 2022



For the past decade, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have taken over roles traditionally reserved for national armed forces, such as support to intelligence activities, training for State and non-State armed groups, and combat operations in some cases. PMSCs have also expanded their areas of operations to conflict-affected regions such as Libya and the Central African Republic. 

While their operations are regulated by the Geneva Conventions and dedicated frameworks such as the Montreux Document (2008) and the International Code of Conduct (2010), PMSCs often operate without the same oversight and constraints of conventional forces, resulting in them committing civilian harm without being held accountable.

Urgent action to ensure better regulation and foster accountability in conflict settings is needed. In March 2022, CIVIC and DCAF organized a joint dialogue to explore ways to reduce threats to civilians arising from the use of PMSCs in armed conflict. 

This led to the publication of an outcome document detailing the main takeaways from the conversation and recommendations to States, PMSCs, the UN, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society to ensure accountability and compliance with International Humanitarian Law. This workshop was based on an upcoming CIVIC brief on the impact of PMSCs on civilian protection, which will soon be made public.