government affairs| montreux
Sabrina Yow-chyi Liu
A Multi-Stakeholder Process Seeks
to Transform Words Into Action
The dawn of a new era of oversight. Photo: Tech. Sgt. Sandra Niedzwiecki/U.S.A.F.
EPRESENTATIVES from the Montreux Document in September 2008, aspirational or regulatory nature. Some
U.S., British and Swiss govern- which reiterated pertinent international argue that the Code ought to retain an
ments, as well as representatives law and included good practices for states aspirational nature, acting as a moral
journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 6 | may-june 2010
from international NGOs, the contin- working with the private sector. As of compass rather than a document with
gency contracting industry and IPOA March 2010, the number of participating detailed provisions normally addressed in
gathered in Washington, D.C. on March 1 states reached 34. national law or individual contracts.
to discuss drafting a global Code of However, given the intention to establish
Conduct for the private security industry. Consensus with the Swiss Initiative and an enforceable mechanism, others would
As a follow-up project to the Montreux active support from industry associations like the Code to include detailed,
Document, this ongoing mission to create has resulted in the process of drafting an normative provisions regarding a
an international Code of Conduct aims to international Code of Conduct for private company’s conduct. This debate is in fact
fill in the perceived gap of accountability security companies (PSCs). This process evident in most details of the Code.
in the private security service sector. In represents an industry-driven effort
order to enhance accountability and involving multiple stakeholders to The Code’s scope of applicability is
respond to service-providers’ and clients’ establish an industry-wide standard, with another concern. Regarding the circum-
concerns, the process has sought broader an international accountability mecha- stances under which the Code applies,
involvement from the industry and their nism, to ensure that PSCs execute their albeit with different terminology, a
clients, be they governments, NGOs or services in a professional and ethical consensus has emerged that the Code
private enterprises. manner. The Swiss government and applies to conflict, post-conflict zones as
Geneva Center for the Democratic well as disaster relief operations. Concern-
As contingency contractors play an Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) is ing the entities and persons to which the
essential role in conflict zones, post- facilitating the process, with support from Code applies, most believe the scope of
conflict zones and disaster relief opera- IPOA, the U.K. and the U.S. govern- application should be restricted to
tions, there is increasing attention on the ments, representatives from the industry PMSCs, but that in the future, the Code
need for enhanced oversight and and international human rights NGOs. might be expanded to include security
management. In 2006, the Swiss govern- IPOA values all stakeholders’ contribu- training and consulting companies. Similar
ment and the International Committee of tion and fully supports this process. to other regulation on contingency
the Red Cross (ICRC) launched an contractors, the definition on private
initiative to promote ‘private military and Currently, a draft of the Code is under security contractors also remains
security companies’ (PMSC) compliance review. There are four issues currently somewhat unsettled.
with international humanitarian law and under debate. First, stakeholders are
human rights law. The Swiss Initiative, as concerned over the nature of the Code, Thirdly, within the process for a global
it came to be known, resulted in the unsure of whether it should take on an
The author is a Government and Legal Affairs Associate at IPOA.
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