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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

Three Armor Group contractors inspect mine clearance activities coordinated by the United Nations Mine Action Office in consultation with the Government of Southern Sudan, other national and international actors.

Global Efforts

United Nations

Global Initiatives

Within the United Nations, initiatives to investigate and regulate the global private military and security industry have developed through four separate UN organs:

Within the Human Rights Council, a number of mechanisms have been established to monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on human rights issues and situations. Chief among these is the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. Other UN reports, documents and resolutions are pertinent to the global regulation of private military and security companies and appear in the section Other UN Initiatives.

Internal Controls 

The UN is also a consumer of private military and security services. Since the 1990s, UN agencies have employed companies to protect personnel operating in complex environments and to provide advice, training, and logistical support to UN operations. Companies also provide military and security services for the UN through member state contingencies. The use of private security services by the UN is not coordinated by a central UN body, but rather UN agencies and country-level managers employ security forces on an ad hoc basis. In 2011, the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) initiated the development of internal policies and procedures for security contracting that would apply to the entire UN system. Those policies and a sample contract for security services were published in November 2012 and appear below.

UN Guidelines on the Use of Private Security Companies

UN Security Management System: Policy Manual - Chapter 4 Armed Private Security Companies

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The UN's core policy towards PMSCs is that they may only be used when there is no possibility of adequate and appropriate armed security from the host State. This document provides the guidance on how to assess, decide, and apply standards to the decision making process of using PMSCs. This policy manual replaces the guidance set forth previously in the UN Field Security Handbook. Operational guidelines are outlined in a separate document.

UN Security Management System: Operations Manual - Statement of Works

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The Statement of Works is Annex B of the UN Operations Manual on using Armed Private Security Services. The Statement of Works details what should be included and defined in a contract with a PMSC. The document includes guidance on training, firearms management, uniforms, and performance evaluations, as well as more general rules for what should be in a contractor's proposal.

UN Field Security Handbook (outdated)

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The UN Field Security Handbook covers a wide spectrum of UN guidance on maintaining safety and security for personnel while operating in the field. Included in the handbook is the UN policy regarding use of armed guards, specifically outlined in Annex O. The release of new UN guidelines on PMSCs in 2012 replaced the Handbook's policy.

For an informative article on the UN's use of PMSCs written before the latest guidelines were released, read UN Use of Private Military and Security Companies Practices and Policies, written by Åse Gilje Østensen and published by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in 2011.

A brief overview of the UN policy concerning the use of private security contractors is also available in a report by the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, issued to the General Assembly on 25 August 2010.