Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Security code is finalized

October 2010

An international code of conduct for private security firms has been agreed and preparations are being made to implement it.  

The code is built on the United Nations Respect, Protect, Remedy framework and the principles of the Montreux Document, a text negotiated by 17 countries with the Red Cross that establishes best practice for governments on using private military and security companies. It commits signatory firms to monitor, assess and improve their performance on humanitarian responsibilities.

Participating firms agree to:
  observe applicable laws and regulations and relevant international standards
  promote the rule of law
  safeguard the human rights of the civilian population and employees, and clients’ interests
  act to prevent adverse impacts on human rights
  provide a means of responding to and resolving allegations of violations of national or international law
  co-operate ‘in good faith’ with national and international investigations into human rights or other violations.

Specific rules are stated on hiring, vetting and training of personnel and subcontractors, on internal grievance and disciplinary procedures, and on the use of force and particularly ‘deadly force’. The code expressly prohibits torture.
The implementation procedure will be announced next month, and the organizers say they will apply ‘flexibility in supporting various methods of enforcement’, suggesting a hands-off approach.

The identities of security firms endorsing the code are unlikely to be known before the end of the year, although industry bodies, including the British Association of Private Security Companies, have helped to write it.

The code has emerged from the Nyon Initiative, begun in June 2009 by industry associations and companies with the help of the Swiss, British and US governments and other stakeholders. The Swiss government will host a conference in November to discuss next steps for obtaining the industry’s formal approval. The aim is to create an independent enforcement mechanism.

The market for businesses in the field exceeds $100billion (£65bn, €79bn), with most firms in the US and Britain.

Red Cross | Global | Human rights

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