International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers seeks to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in regions where the rule of law has been undermined. Its oversight and governance mechanism is based in Geneva.  

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 created in 2010 at the initiative of various parties including Switzerland. It enjoys the support of private security companies, various industry associations and humanitarian and civil society organisations. 

Specifically, by adhering to the Code, private security companies undertake to respect human rights and comply with international humanitarian law when providing security services in regions where the rule of law has been undermined.  They undertake to respect 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 respect the code: these require the implementation of certain good practices for recruitment and training and the implementation of internal company reporting and supervisory 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 ensure that private security companies which have joined the ICoCA comply with the Code of Conduct. Encouragingly, a growing number of contractors (governments, inter-governmental organisations and businesses) are requiring their service providers to be members of the ICoCA.