The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) defines industry rules and principles based on human rights and international humanitarian law. This document, the first of its kind, was launched at the initiative of various actors including Switzerland. It enjoys the support of private security companies, various industry associations and humanitarian and civil society organisations.
Specifically private security companies undertake to respect human rights and international humanitarian law when providing security services in regions where the rule of law has been undermined. They undertake to comply with all applicable laws, including local, regional and/or national laws.
The Code contains important provisions on the appropriate use of force by these companies as well as prohibitions on certain activities, in particular torture, discrimination and human trafficking. It also sets out management policies, which should help to ensure that the personnel of private security companies comply with the code. It further specifies principles for recruitment and training and the implementation of internal reporting and governance mechanisms.
Association based in Geneva
In September 2013, multi-stakeholder negotiations established an independent governance and oversight mechanism in the form of an association under Swiss law: the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers’ Association (ICoCA), based in Geneva. The ICoCA Board of Directors, is made up of representatives from government, industry and civil society. The ICoCA has developed procedures for certification, monitoring, reporting, assessing performance and addressing complaints.
Implementation of these procedures will help ensure that private security companies that have joined the ICoCA comply with the Code of Conduct. Encouragingly, a growing number of contracting entities (governments, inter-governmental organisations and private enterprises) are starting to demand their service providers to be members of the ICoCA.