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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor


Commentary Archive

This page contains commentaries that have been published on the Private Security Monitor website.

The Launch of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association

Winter 2013

On September 20, 2013, one of the most ambitious efforts to achieve better transparency and accountability in the private security company (PSC) sector reached an important milestone. The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association (ICoCA) was constituted in Geneva, Switzerland. The ICoCA was envisaged by the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (ICoC), signed in November 2010. The ICoC established a set of human rights principles and management practices that signatory PSCs agreed to observe, and called for the development of an “independent governance and oversight mechanism” that would take responsibility for maintaining and administering the ICoC. The ICoCA will act as that mechanism. It will assist and support its member companies in implementing the obligations of the ICoC, and also will address any violations of the ICoC by those companies.

To achieve this mandate, the ICoCA will be focused on three core activities: certification; monitoring and performance assessment; and third party complaints. Certification requires member companies to provide evidence to the ICoCA—such as third party audits to approved external business standards—that they have implemented the systems and policies necessary to comply with the ICoC. Monitoring and performance assessment involves the ICoCA conducting independent assessments of member company compliance, via both remote monitoring and in-field monitoring. Third-party complaints entails member companies and the ICoCA working in cooperation to address complaints made by third parties that allege that a member company has violated the ICoC.

At its launch, the ICoCA had 135 member companies, as well as thirteen civil society organization members and five government members. These groups together comprise the ICoCA General Assembly, and a twelve-member multi-stakeholder Board of Directors was elected from the membership. Membership is expected to expand, with a number of entities already seeking post-launch admission either as members or as observers.

Daily operations of the ICoCA will be handled by a Secretariat office located in Geneva, led by an Executive Director. Financial support will consist of government contributions and member dues paid by industry. Substantial financial commitments from governments, valued in excess of $2 million over the next few years, already have been secured.

While the launch of the ICoCA was cause for celebration, critical work remains. The ICoCA’s founding articles established a framework for its core functions, but the Board of Directors must now develop the detailed procedures necessary to fully execute these functions. It likely will take one to two years for the ICoCA to come into being and to be in a position to execute all of its intended functions. Continued commitment from all parties to the success of the ICoCA will be critical.

Client adoption is also a key requirement. The ICoC will mean nothing if the clients of PSCs, both government and commercial, do not see its value and make it part of their purchasing activity. A number of governments, such as the United Kingdom and United States, as well as the United Nations, have taken important steps to make the ICoC part of their process for selecting and hiring PSCs. This approach, however, must continue to expand. The ICoCA will need to continue to educate clients about the benefits that it can offer.

If the ICoCA can achieve its goals, it ultimately will do more than address issues about transparency and accountability of its member companies. It will point the way to a new global framework for the responsible provision of security services. As opposed to the disparate and uneven laws, regulations, and requirements that now exist around the world, it would be possible to point to the ICoC as the benchmark for PSC operations that comply with international humanitarian law and human rights principles, a standard further bolstered by independent, multi-stakeholder oversight via the ICoCA. Hopefully, it will come to show how industry, governments, and civil society can work together to address difficult problems in a practical and proactive manner with equal commitment and participation from all parties.

- Mark DeWitt is Deputy General Counsel at Triple Canopy, Inc.

Pragmatic action is the key to governing private security services

Summer 2013

Stories of private security contractors run amok in Iraq, private involvement in coup attempts in Equatorial Guinea, and the seeming inability of individual governments to regulate the global industry led many analysts to see the privatization of military and security services as a run-away problem in the early part of the 21st Century. Governance of this industry now, however, looks increasingly manageable. In February of this year stakeholders reached agreement on the charter for a governing body for the International Code of Conduct for private security providers (ICoC) and are now working toward launching the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) in September. The creation of this body promises to institutionalize an overlapping set of initiatives that, together, represent a significant step toward the effective governance of the global private military and security industry.

The key to the progress thus far has been a willingness on the part of governments, industry, and civil society groups to engage pragmatically with one another. The "Swiss Initiative", out of which these agreements grew, was launched in 2006 not to devise new international regulation but to bring the industry and its clients into greater compliance with already existing international humanitarian and human rights law. This modest goal was instrumental in drawing together those governments and industry uninterested in international regulation. The overarching purpose – to improve compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law – drew in other governments and civil society groups.

The Swiss Initiative resulted in the Montreux Document (issued in 2008). It set a broad framework drawn from existing international law obligations within which states could manage their various relationships with private military and security companies (PMSCs). It also revealed some gaps. One gap was the obligations of PMSCs, themselves. An immediate follow on process was launched to develop a base line for company behavior all over the world. The ICoC (issued in 2010) was the result of this process.

Pragmatism on the part of all parties was important for creating relationships between individuals representing powerful states, important members of industry, and civil society groups. These ongoing relationships were instrumental in tethering the purpose of enhancing compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights with the power, expertise and legitimacy necessary to generate results. No one group of stakeholders alone could have produced the effectiveness promised by this overlapping set of initiatives.

Though the US was suspicious of international regulation it has been an important proponent of this code of conduct. Events in Iraq and Afghanistan and consequent pressures from Congress, led individuals at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the State Department to see the Swiss Initiative as something they should get behind. By contributing US muscle to a larger, multi-stakeholder effort they saw the prospect of encouraging PMSCs, even those working for non US clients, to respect international norms. The US decision to work closely on what became the ICoC gave the process greater gravitas and promised to put US enforcement power (joined by the UK, Australia and many others) behind the ICoC.

US involvement also drove the development of industry standards based on the ICoC. When Congress required the DoD to devise standard practices for private security providers, the DoD supported the development of standards that could be adopted internationally (using the American National Standards Institute, ANSI, process). And they required specific reference the Montreux Document and the ICoC in these standards. Four PSC standards specifically built around the principles in the Montreux Document and the ICoC have currently been developed and approved.

PMSC industry leaders have been receptive contributors to the ICoC and PSC Standards processes as a means of establishing the legitimacy of their services. Both individual companies as well as industry groups, including the US based International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) and the British based ADS and their Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) (among others) have been willing to sit down with government and civil society members to hammer out a workable code and governing association. Rather than lobbying against the process (as their brethren who manufacture guns have done), the industry admitted there could be more or less appropriate operations and engaged with the other stakeholders to hammer out the criteria for a legitimate industry.

Representatives from civil society, particularly organizations committed to human rights and rule of law, are crucial to both the legitimacy of these efforts and their ongoing outcomes. While some civil society groups were criticizing any engagement with the PMSC industry, organizations such as Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch and others took a more measured approach. Seeing the potential to encourage better behavior among major clients and industry leaders, they opted to engage with industry and governments to push both toward compliance with the obligations they articulated in the Montreux Document and the ICoC.

This process has generated progress. There is now a benchmark for private security behavior in the ICoC and it is reinforced by the PSC Standards. The ICoCA, however, will be crucial for institutionalizing the relationship between stakeholders, monitoring implementation of the ICoC, and ensuring that PMSCs that sign on the ICoC actually conduct themselves accordingly. As the stakeholders begin to form the ICoCA, each group is evaluating the costs and benefits of participation. Companies must decide whether to undertake obligations, join the ICoCA, and begin paying dues. Civil society has to evaluate whether their involvement has led to an organization with the muscle necessary to enhance compliance with the ICoC. And governments must determine how their obligations vis-à-vis the ICoC will interface work with their existing law and procedures.

As each of the stakeholder groups evaluates whether the ICoCA will be worth their involvement, they would be well served by remembering that what drew them into this process was the impossibility of reaching their goals alone. Though far from perfect in the eyes of any stakeholders, the ICoCA promises to institutionalize the pragmatic engagement responsible for the progress thus far and play an important and positive role in ensuring that the industry respects international norms. Without it the entire web of governance including the Montreux Document, the ICoC, and the PSC standards will be weaker and the potential for continued progress will be dimmed.

- Deborah Avant is Sié Chéou-Kang Chair for International Security and Diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. She is the author of The Market for Force and Who Governs the Globe?

Private Maritime Security Companies and the Use of Force

Spring 2013

Last year, a drafting group consisting of private security associations, flag states and maritime industry associations began working on the so-called 100 Series Rules “for the establishment of a clear and concise model set of Rules for Use of Force that may be used by Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel in the maritime domain.” This effort is now bogged down by disagreements and competing initiatives, illustrating the difficulty in arriving at an agreed standard. The discussion surrounding this issue must take into account the multi-faceted, complex nature of counter-piracy vessel protection activities. Despite multiple attempts to provide guidance on the matter, no single solution has been accepted as universal or authoritative.

Under the current system, Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) are responsible for abiding by rules for the use of force (RUF) in accordance with the laws of the Flag State of the vessel on which they are embarked, and if applicable, the laws of the port state or territorial waters. Variance between Flag State laws and policies, and lack of robust oversight has made it difficult to ensure accountability in the proper and ethical use of force. The increasingly complex nature and greater geographic proliferation of PMSCs makes the conversation about RUF more important than ever. Additionally, proposed private navy initiatives such as Typhon might further challenge the boundaries between the public and private security and military apparatuses charged with protecting merchant vessels (MVs).

To preface the discussion on civilian security providers at sea, it is important to properly understand the various terms and concepts involved. Well over 200 Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) provide security services to Merchant Vessels (MVs) and fishing vessels during transit through the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Oman. To this end, they hire out Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) teams consisting on average of 3-4 armed guards. The fully civilian composition of PCASP teams differentiates them from Vessel Protection Detachments (VPD). A VPD is a team of military personnel, usually from the Marine force of the flag state. Several Flag States prefer the use of VPD over PCASP as they are generally more professional, accountable, and as military personnel, subject to significant oversight. The primary drawback to VPDs is the cost difference between a VPD team and a PCASP team.

This discussion also necessitates that we distinguish between the two types of rules that govern the use of force at sea, Rules on the Use of Force (RUF) and Rules of Engagement (ROE). RUF are explicitly defensive in their mandate. In this way they differ substantially from Rules of Engagement (ROE). Rules of Engagement outline appropriate parameters for offensive action (though they may also contain defensive provisions as well), and are only applicable to legitimate, state military forces. RUF, as an outline for defensive conduct, are applicable to both state and private security forces, and therefore apply to both VPD and PCASP. In the interest of brevity, and given their applicability, RUF will be the focus of this discussion.

RUF serve a twofold purpose: protecting potentially innocent bi-standers against the inappropriate, indiscriminate or abusive use of force, and protecting security and military personnel by outlining the legitimate parameters for the use of force in self-defense and the defense of others. Demonstrated compliance with the RUF serves as a potential defense in the event of litigation. 

Though PCASP operate in a quasi-military capacity they are civilians, working under a civilian mandate. This civilian mandate should inform RUF by permitting the use of force only in self-defense and the defense of others. The rights to preemptive force, boarding operations, and detention of suspects are held exclusively by military forces. Self-defense for a PCASP team, however, falls into two categories:

  • Individual self-defense, which gives the individual the right to use force to defend his person from an attack or imminent attack.
  • Use of force in the protection of others, the right to defend specific persons against attack or imminent attack with the use of force.

The importance of understanding RUF and the discussion surrounding its proper application have been highlighted by events such as: (1) the Enrica Lexie incident, involving the alleged killing of two Indian fisherman by an embarked VPD of Italian Marines; (2) footage of a PCASP team on board the MV Avocet shooting at an approaching pirate skiff, which calls into question accepted standards for escalation of force and proportionality; and (3) questions associated with an encounter involving the MV Almezaan. During this incident, EU naval forces came across a pirate skiff after the Almezaan issued a distress call about a piracy attack. The skiff was shot full of holes and taking on water, with one occupant dead. During questioning, the Ship's Master denied having security and weapons on board, and claimed the pirates were deterred by pen flares.

In the absence of sufficient incentives to adhere to rigorous RUF, some PMSC have begun adopting more lax standards, exemplified by policies where PMSCs have designated 350m "no skiff zones." Such policies operate under the premise that deadly force is authorized by virtue of proximity. This exceeds the US Coastguard's definition of imminent threat: "aiming or firing weapons at a ...vessel with individuals embarked, or an attempted armed, non-consensual boarding, ... or brandishing weapons directed at crewmembers or security personnel, where there is a reasonable belief that the attacker(s) also has the means and opportunity to inflict great bodily harm or death on the individual or others in the vicinity." This guidance provides an example of how an RUF requirement could clearly define imminent threat, the activities it authorizes, and the limits it establishes.

While not yet endorsed by the International Maritime Authority, the International Standardization Organization (ISO) Standard for Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) providing privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships (and pro forma contract)- also known as the ISO 28007 - requires that the MV Master and the PMSC contracted to provide a PCASP team must agree on an RUF policy. This policy must be in accordance with Flag State and International law and provide for:

  • Reasonable steps to avoid the use of force
  • A graduated deterrent approach including non-lethal methods and warning shots
  • Force being used only in self-defense (necessary to deter a perceived threat and proportionate to that threat)
  • The master possessing final fire/cease fire authority
  • Written incident reports being provided to "appropriate international liaison," the flag state, the client, and the insurer
  • "Where possible and practicable, a visual (and audio) record of any attack"

As stated at the beginning of this article, several large Flag States, industry associations, and industry actors have participated in the drafting of the 100 Series Rules for the Use of Force. The 100 Series will draw on UNCLOS, the Montreux Document, the International Code of Conduct, Industry Best Management Practices (Version 4) and a range of other documents to inform the drafting of an RUF that is both consistent with international law and complementary to ISO 28007. Like other RUF documents and standards, implementation, compliance certification, and enforcement will be the primary challenges. The willingness of Flag States and the shipping industry to require compliance by PMSCs will be key to the success or failure of the 100 Series. The 100 Series is expected to be released sometime in mid 2013.

Without comprehensive, enforceable, and properly administered RUF, PCASP teams will continue to operate in what amounts to a regulatory vacuum. Given the greatly expanded number and geographic range of armed security teams at sea, the stakes to local fishermen and seafarers are potentially life and death. The human cost of piracy includes not only the life, health, and freedom of the seafarers taken captive by pirates, but also any who may be victims of wrongful or indiscriminate use of force by PCASP teams. PCASP serve a vital function in protecting seafarers and cargo from the threats that evade the international naval presence, but they must operate within a legitimate and thoughtful regulatory scheme. The professional, international naval forces function within the constraints of Rules of Engagement, military law, and humanitarian principles; PMSC should follow suit.

- Matt Walje is a Project Coordinator at Oceans Beyond Piracy  |  @PiracyOBP

The Challenges of Maritime Private Security Oversight

Winter 2012

In the spring of 2012, a video surfaced which showed Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) firing on a suspected pirate skiff off the coast of Somalia. It is a clear sunny day in open water, and the team leader is observing the approaching skiff from the bridge. Garbled radio traffic is heard, and the command to fire warning shots is given. A PCASP runs from the bridge and starts firing alongside one of his team members as the skiff nears the ship. Before more than four shots are fired it is obvious that the security team is firing into the pirate skiff. The small, open speed boat slams into the side of the massive merchant vessel, almost overturning, as heavy fire from the security team continues. More shots are fired at the spinning skiff as it disappears in the wake. The PCASP runs out of ammunition and he is seen to reload his assault rifle as the video is cut off.

The report for this incident, published in the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Annual Report for 2011 is brief and appears to lack important details:

"Seven pirates armed with guns in two skiffs launched from a mother vessel, chased and fired upon the ship underway with intent to hijack. Master raised alarm, contacted authorities, increased speed and took evasive maneuvers. As the skiffs came closed to 50 meters, armed security team onboard fired warning shots. The pirates aborted the attempted attack. The mother vessel was observed 4nm away."

This video and its various postings have been viewed over 70,000 times and have created controversy as many viewers were shocked by the level of violence it contains. This video raises questions about the conduct of security teams, and the potential excesses that may arise in their conduct of operations. 

This incident at sea was one of more than 199 piracy attacks reported to the IMB in 2011, and illustrates the challenges regarding the use of PCASP in fighting piracy. Among the main issues being discussed are:

  • What are the oversight mechanisms and vetting requirements for private security teams? 
  • What are the rules regarding the reporting of incidents?

Despite its criminal nature, piracy has historically been addressed by naval forces. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the so-called High Risk Area (HRA) in the Indian Ocean has overwhelmed the 20+ naval vessels that conduct counter-piracy under the flag of NATO, the European Union and numerous independent naval operations. This gap in security has provided a lucrative market for private security forces and has resulted in an explosion of the Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) that contract PCASP to individual vessels. Today there are well over 200 PMSC's in operation, with PCASP teams embarked on an estimated 30%-60% of the 40,000 ships that transit the Indian Ocean each year.

PCASP teams employed by ships are governed by vastly different levels of oversight, depending on the laws of the Flag State where the ship is registered and the contract signed between the PMSC and the shipping company. The challenge of regulating the actions of these teams is further complicated by the fact that the PCASPs operate in international waters, far beyond the reach of any serious oversight or supervision. The lack of verified reports of wrongful death and injury by PCASP teams is touted as evidence that more regulation is not necessary and would simply be a burden on the industry. However, a lack of reported incidents in this kinetic and dangerous environment seems to be cause for suspicion, not validation.

Recently, coastal states have called for more stringent oversight of PCASP and other maritime stakeholders have called for the removal of the teams. However, these calls have met with opposition by those who point out that no ship employing armed security has ever been taken by pirates. As 2015 approaches, marking a possible end to international counter-piracy mandates and a resulting decrease in navy patrols, the success of PCASP in deterring or preventing hijackings has been welcomed by many naval states and has even been suggested as a possible permanent solution to maritime piracy.

PCASP oversight issues are complicated by significant variation in Flag State regulations, leaving PCASP teams to operate in a partial regulatory vacuum. In order to demonstrate some level of oversight and legitimacy, multiple certification schemes have cropped up.

  • SAMI, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, is a for-profit certification scheme with 185 member companies, of which only 23 have completed the first level of certification.
  • The International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for private security service providers has 238 maritime security companies as signatories. However, signatories incur no legal obligations and simply agree that the principles of the Code of Conduct should dictate their actions. While an accountability mechanism is under development for the ICoC, it may be difficult to enforce the provisions of the Code in such a challenging environment as the open sea.
  • ASIS International, a preeminent security industry organization, is in the process of finalizing their draft of PSC. 4, which is a set of guidelines applicable to maritime security. Unfortunately, while this document provides recommendations for use of force and reporting, it does not provide requirements. As such its effect is limited to the voluntary compliance of PMSC's.
  • One of the largest shipping associations, the Baltic International Maritime Company (BIMCO), also has attempted to standardize the relationship between shipping companies and PMSCs through the creation of a template contract called GUARDCON for use by member companies. Numerous other certification schemes created by Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Clubs decorate the websites of various PMSC's as well.
  • The Maritime Security Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is drafting a standards and oversight document with the assistance of the International Standards Organization. It is hoped that once this document is agreed upon, most of the major Flag States will incorporate the standards into their oversight regulations.

Unfortunately, it is clear that in spite of these efforts, regulations cannot be effective unless they are clearly defined and enforced by legitimate authorities.

Of the 24 major Flag States, only 17 require reporting of any kind to the Flag State, and only 6 require any form of reporting to international bodies. Most open registries provide only "guidance" for PCASP. This guidance is characterized by the use of the term "should" and generally lacks definitive direction. Without a clear oversight framework from the Flag State, ship masters and PCASP teams focus on the relationship with the shipping companies that are their clients.

The reporting of incidents that are resolved without damage to the ship or injury to the crew is also effectively dis-incentivized, since the reporting PCASP may open themselves to lengthy investigation and review of certification and training. To complicate matters, confidentiality agreements, where incidents cannot be reported to outside agencies are sometimes incorporated as a part of the PMSC contract with the shipping company.

This lack of transparency extends beyond the ambiguous reporting requirements on the part of Flag States, and spills over into the independent and international regulatory and certifying bodies. BIMCO's GUARDCON contract and the ICoC both require that security incidents be reported to the appropriate bodies, but only insofar as the Flag States' regulations require. A clear definition of appropriate bodies is also conspicuously absent. The IMO Guidance and Best Management Practices (BMP4) recommend that security incidents be reported, but go no further, nor do they have the authority to do so. A lack of incentives and requirements to report incidents is made more disturbing when coupled with the lack of standards for use of force policies described briefly below.

In addition to issues of oversight and accountability, PCASP have yet to be subject to a standardized, industry-wide use of force policy. Such a policy would mitigate the possibility that lethal force is used inappropriately. And though such important governance issues have yet to be settled, PCASP will likely continue to be used in the fight against piracy in the short-to- medium term. While the number of reported piracy incidents has decreased significantly in 2012, the underlying root causes of piracy are only beginning to be addressed and as a result, PCASP may have to fill the security vacuum until these longer-term initiatives can take hold. So far, PCASP have been highly effective at repelling pirate attacks and have prevented the taking of any merchant vessel by pirates, which increases the safety of the mariners. However, the current framework where these PCASP operate is under-regulated and lacks a robust and universally agreed oversight mechanism necessary to prevent tragedies.

Unfortunately, the consequences associated with the lack of standard oversight for PCASP also has the potential to get worse before it gets better. In fact, as the number of piracy incidents dwindles, shipping companies may be drawn to cheaper, less reputable security teams under the impression that the threat is no longer as pressing. Land-based private security went through similar growing pains before coming under more responsible oversight regimes. It is hoped that the learning curve will be shorter for their maritime colleagues.

- Jon Huggins, Executive Director of Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) and Matt Walje, OBP Project Coordinator  |  website at:

A Patchwork Approach to Better Private Security Regulation and Oversight

Autumn 2012

In the challenging transnational landscape of regulating and overseeing private security providers, it is clear that there is not a "one-size-fits-all" solution to this problem. Instead, there seems to be a growing consensus that a multi-layered approach to regulation is required, coming from different angles and having authority at a different level of regulation (e.g., national, international, self/co-regulation), but moving towards using similar standards. The concept most often used to evoke the interrelationship of these different initiatives is "complementarity." While important challenges remain, this perhaps reflects that these various initiatives, though often starting off from very different places, are slowly moving towards some common understandings about private security regulation. The last half of summer 2012 was quite busy for private security regulation, with four significant conferences/meetings on this topic taking place between the end of July and the third week in September. Below follows a brief overview of these meetings.

The 16th Meeting of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (UNWG), held during 30 July-3 August in New York

With new membership bringing a fresh perspective this year, the UN WG has adopted a pragmatic approach to regulation on an international level, focusing on identifying real gaps in national and international regulation. Recognizing the value of a multi-faceted approach to regulation, the group has recognized the positive contributions of the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct to international standard-setting, seeing them as complementary to their continued work on a draft UN convention (They are also collaborating with Denver University and DCAF on this website's regulation database).

The second session of the UN Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) to consider the possibility of elaborating an International Regulatory Framework on Reporting, Monitoring and Oversight of Private Military and Security Companies, held during 13-17 August in Geneva

Participants in the IGWG's second meeting have uniformly hailed it as much more constructive than the first one held in May of 2011, with participating governments able to reach consensus to continue the discussions for another two years, despite the fact that several of the participating states had originally opposed the establishment of the IGWG. The work of the UNWG, the UN Guiding Principles, the Montreux Document and the ICoC were discussed in constructive ways throughout the four days of meeting.

The 35th Roundtable on current issues of International Humanitarian Law entitled "Private Security Services in Armed Conflict" held 6-8 September at the Institute of International Humanitarian Law (IIHL) in Sanremo, Italy.

The IIHL had panels discussing all of the major international initiatives listed above, also adding maritime security and perspectives from the extractive industry through the lens of the Voluntary Principles. The round table ended with the exciting announcement of a "Montreux Document+5" conference to be hosted by the Swiss government and the ICRC in Montreux, Switzerland at the end of 2013.

International Code of Conduct (ICoC) Expanded Temporary Steering Committee (TSC) Meetings held on the 12th of September in London, and on the 20th of September in Washington, DC

Finally, as the ICoC TSC is finalizing the Charter of the Independent Governance and Oversight Mechanism (IGOM) of the ICoC, it held expanded TSC meetings inviting a larger number of interested stakeholders to take stock of and get feedback from on its progress in incorporating public comments in the areas of Certification, Monitoring and Third Party Complaints. Particularly noteworthy was the increased participation of a larger number of interested stakeholders coming at a critical time before the Charter is finalized in the beginning of 2013.

With all of these initiatives and more working to improve private security regulation, the Private Security Monitor looks forward to bringing you the latest news and information on their progress.

- Anne-Marie Buzatu leads DCAF's private security governance program

Introducing the Private Security Monitor

Summer 2012

Over the past year there have been significant developments in the regulation of private military and security services. There is now an International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for private security providers, a draft charter for an Independent Governance and Oversight Mechanism for the ICoC, and an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for Management System Quality of Private Security Company Operations. Both the ICoC and the ANSI standard are built within the framework supplied by the Montreux Document, which outlines legal responsibilities and good practices for states in relation to private military and security services.

The expansion of private military and security services, though, continues to outpace regulatory efforts. Consider, for instance, the growth of private security services at sea in response to piracy and the accompanying concerns about the regulatory environment in maritime settings. Developments in disparate corners of the globe challenge all but the best informed. And there are difficulties with sharing information on the wide variety of regulatory efforts and how they interact with industry developments.

The Private Security Monitor is a new service designed to enhance transparency on the growth, promise, and challenges surrounding private military and security services. It is premised on the idea that good governance of these services requires accurate information about them. It thus supports information sharing about regulatory initiatives surrounding military and security services, as well as about all aspects of the military and security industry, its clients, and those it operates around.

In its first iteration, the Private Security Monitor provides an annotated guide to publicly available regulation, data, reports, and analysis of private military and security services. Its coverage of global, multilateral, and US-based regulation is comprehensive. The Private Security Monitor will also provide a monthly commentary on current issues and links to important news and events related to these services.

This is only the first iteration, though. In cooperation with DCAF and the UN Working Group on the use of Mercenaries, the Private Security Monitor is in the process of surveying UN member states on their related laws and regulations. We will provide coverage of national legislation beyond the US as we acquire this information. On the horizon we see the development of a variety of additional initiatives including tracking judicial proceeding with regard to these services.

So browse the site and check back frequently. And if you have ideas of other services we could provide, please feel free to be in touch. We welcome partnerships with others seeking transparency and good governance of the private military and security sector.

- Deborah Avant, Sié Chéou-Kang Chair for International Security and Diplomacy, Josef Korbel School of International Studies