10 years of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

Bern, 03.12.2020 - The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (the "Code of Conduct") was launched 10 years ago. It obliges private security service providers to respect human rights and international humanitarian law and to prevent their violation. Switzerland was influential in creating the code of conduct and is head of its supervisory board.

In the year 2020 the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers celebrated its 10th anniversary. The rules of conduct contained in the ICoC specify the companies' obligation to respect human rights, in particular regarding the use of force, detention, prohibition of torture, sexual abuse, human trafficking, forced labour and prohibition of discrimination. Switzerland was influential in creating the code of conduct.

Already 100 private security companies are committed to the ICoC
The International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) is the control mechanism of the ICoC. Some 160 representatives from private security companies, NGOs and governments met at this year's Annual General Assembly of the ICoCA, which began on 30 November, to take stock of the past ten years and to see what the future holds.

Since the launch of the Code of Conduct, some 100 private security companies have pledged their adherence to the code by becoming members of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA). In her opening speech, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) ad interim State Secretary Krystyna Marty Lang expressed appreciation of the change in attitude seen among many contracting clients towards the ICoCA certificate. "This positive trend is the result of a strategic change in many institutions that depend on the services of security companies. Like Switzerland, many clients today regard ICoCA certification as a prerequisite for awarding contracts."

Krystyna Marty Lang says that 100 members is already a considerable number, yet there is potential for more. "We must all continue to require security companies to be ICoCA members and encourage our partners to do the same," emphasised the state secretary.

The Annual General Assembly provided participants with a platform for discussing the challenges of the future. The focus was on the supervision and use of new technologies, certification processes, access to complaint mechanisms for potential victims of abuse and raising awareness among clients of private security companies.

Switzerland's commitment at various levels
Switzerland has supported the ICoCA since its foundation in 2013 and chairs the supervisory board. The impact of the Association's commitment can be seen at different levels. In addition to its core task, monitoring adherence to the Code of Conduct, it is also active in the field. In field missions during conflicts in Iraq, South Sudan or in Nigeria, ICoCA representatives have met with NGOs and private security companies to raise awareness about the Code of Conduct and to monitor human rights conditions.
Commitment to peace and security is a top priority in Switzerland’s Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–2023. Support for the ICoCA is consistent with commitment to the universal protection of human rights that is also enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs