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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

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Global Efforts

Other UN Initiatives

The United Nations, tasked with maintaining world peace and security, has expressed non-binding principles, recommendations, and guidelines aimed at achieving its mission. While most of these pronouncements do not directly address PMSC activity, many are nonetheless relevant as they pertain to law enforcement, criminal justice and human rights standards.

UN Conventions that are binding on signatory states and have achieved near-universal acceptance appear in the section Generally Applicable International Law.

 

United Nations Documents

Proliferation of weapons and armed violence in the private security sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and opportunities for taking action

Author: UNLIREC
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This report, published by the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament  and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), examines more than 100 documented cases of armed violence and the proliferation of firearms in the private security sector.  The investigation uncovered the frequency with which these events occur and the existence of problems in state regulation.  The document concludes with a presentation of initiatives that may be implemented by states and corporations to face the challenges presented by the possession of firearms by private security firms.  Please note that this document is in Spanish and only the abstract is available in English.  

UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Author: UN General Assembly
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The non-binding Standard Minimum Rules were adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders and approved by the ECOSOC by resolution in 1957 and again in 1977. The Standards set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners, whether untried or convicted, including prisoners subject to "security measures" or other forms of detention.

Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum - Training Tool: Security Forces

Author: UN Global Compact
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The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor,environment and anti-corruption. This document serves as a guide to businesses in dealing with security forces in high-risk locations, particularly how to avoid complicity in human rights abuses. It also discusses employing private security companies as an alternative.

The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights: An Interpretive Guide

Author: UN
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This interpretive guide is designed to support the process of the effective implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for implementing the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework. The guide focuses on the Guiding Principles that address the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. It was developed in full collaboration with the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials

Author: UN General Assembly
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Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979, the Code of Conduct sets forth basic standards for “law enforcement officials,” which includes persons who provide security or exercise police powers. In addition to other standards, it states that such officials must only use force in exception circumstances; must uphold the human rights of all persons; and must refrain from criminal acts such as torture and corrupt practices.

UN Guidelines for Humanitarian Organizations on Interacting with Military and Other Security Actors in Iraq

Author: DSRSG
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This document was developed by the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) with the advice of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and in consultation and collaboration with a wide range of humanitarian actors working on Iraq. It was created to address civilian-military relations for humanitarian action in the context of Iraq, circa 2004. It focuses on a number of areas and topics that might require coordination between humanitarian, military and other security actors, presenting possible approaches and necessary considerations.

UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights

Author: UN ECOSOC
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Approved in 2003 by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the Norms are a restatement of international legal principles applicable to businesses with regard to international human rights, humanitarian law, labor law, and more.  It was controversial and not-well-received because it essentially sought to impose on companies the international law obligations of states.

OCHA Guidelines: To Stay and Deliver: Good Practices for Humanitarians in Complex Security Environments

Author: OCHA
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The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published these guidelines to assist humanitarian professionals working in volatile and insecure environments. It discusses a variety of practices humanitarian workers have used in their efforts to maintain an operational presence and continue their activities, including the use of armed guards by humanitarian organizations. It recommends seeking area security rather than armed escorts. Such security involves 'clearing' roads, maintaining a presence in the area (but not being distinctly visible or accompanying the convoy or vehicles), and providing flyovers.

Introductory Handbook on Policing Urban Space

Author: UNODC
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The Handbook seeks to provide practitioners, including government officials, police, municipal planners and members of civic groups, with a basic conceptual grounding in democratic policing. Recommendations to governments include establishing effective regulation of private security firms, including ensuring that private firms do not employ criminals; creating rules that specify the type of armaments carried by private security guards and the type of training received; maintaining a registry of private security firms and their employees; etc. There is a note about the regulation of private security firms in the UAE.

UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

Author: UN General Assembly
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Adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, in Havana, Cuba in 1990, the Basic Principles set standards regarding the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials, and attempt to limit the ability of law enforcement officials to carry and use firearms. They function as the global standards for police agencies worldwide, although they are not enforceable in law.

UN Civil-Military Guidelines & References for Complex Emergencies

Author: IASC
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The guidelines, developed by the United Nations and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on civil-military relationship in complex emergencies, aims to  assist humanitarian and military professionals to deal with civil-military issues in a manner that respects and appropriately reflects humanitarian concerns at the strategic, operational and tactical levels — in accordance with international law, standards and principles.  Issues addressed include: who should provide armed escorts to humanitarian convoys; when and under what circumstances should these escorts be employed; and in what ways can the unnecessary ‘militarization’ of aid be prevented.

UN Guidelines for the Use of Military or Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys

Author: OCHA
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The document was produced by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the request by the Deputy Secretary-General's Task Force on security policy, and was elaborated in collaboration with Inter-Agency Standing Committee member bodies, and reviewers from a number of organizations.  It contains non-binding guidelines regarding the use of military and armed escorts for humanitarian convoys. Part I reviews the broader policy context, and Part II consists of two sets of guidelines: one on when escorts might be used, the other on how they might be used. 

United Nations Global Compact's Ten Principles

Author: UN Global Compact
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Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to responsible business practices. It seeks to align business operations with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. It is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative, with thousands signatories based in more than 130 countries.

UN Guidelines for UN and other Humanitarian Organizations on Interacting with Military, Non-State Armed Actors, and Other Security Actors in Iraq

Author: OCHA
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These Guidelines, created by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, were intended to provide a practical and overarching framework to ensure a more coordinated and transparent interaction between humanitarian actors and the military (including, the Multi-National Forces in Iraq (MNF-I), security and non-state armed actors) on issues of mutual concern.