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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

An expert from ArmorGroup (left) trains local members of the Nepal and Maoist Armies on the safe removal of unexploded devices.

National Regulations

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to a large number of private military and security companies operating both domestically and abroad, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID) have increasingly relied on PMSCs providing logistics and armed security. Domestic security companies are governed primarily through the 2001 Private Security Act and its accompanying subsidiary regulation. By contrast, while the regulation of firms operating abroad has been discussed since the publication of a 2002 FCO Green Paper, the international activities of British PMSCs are not formally regulated. Due to the international scope of UK PMSCs operations, the UK government has discarded the possibility of enforcing restrictive domestic legislation, opting for a self-regulatory approach based on the signing of domestic and  international third-party monitored codes of conduct and the use of government demand as an informal incentive for high standards of behavior. 

The growth of the UK maritime private security industry has recently brought to the fore a new governmental actor in the regulatory process, namely the Department for Transport (DfT). In late 2011, the DfT has authorized the use of private security on UK flagged vessels transiting through the area between Suez and the Straights of Hormuz. Under the current regulatory framework, UK vessels transiting through the high risk area will have to require authorization from the Home Office for the possession of firearms.

UNITED KINGDOM LEGISLATION

 

United Kingdom: Department of Transport Guidance to UK Flagged Shipping on Measures to Counter Piracy, Armed Robbery and Other Acts of Violence Against Merchant Shipping

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This guidance aims to assist all UK registered ship owners, companies, ship operators, masters and crews in understanding the risk of piracy, armed robbery and other acts of violence against ships, and reminds them of the importance of taking action to deter such acts and advises on how to deal with them should they occur.

Green Paper on the Regulation of Private Military Companies, Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Ninth Report

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In response to a recommendation by the UK Foreign Affairs Committee, the British government wrote a Green Paper in 2002 outlining the options available to the UK for regulating private military companies. The report also discusses the current laws and regulations governing the industry in the UK. The six options were : a) a ban on military activity abroad, b) a ban on recruitment for military activity abroad, c) a licensing regime for military services, d) registration ad notification, e) a general license system and f) self-regulation: a voluntary code of conduct. An excellent analysis of the Green Paper can be found in Priv-War's report on the U.K 

United Kingdom: Private Security Act 2001

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Private security companies operating within the UK are regulated by this Act.  The objective of the Act is to protect the public from the negligent and unprofessional practices of private security companies by reducing criminality and raising standards within the private security industry.  It establishes the Security Industry Authority – a non-departmental public body (NDPB) accountable to the Home Secretary which is charged with the responsibility of administering, monitoring and enforcing private security regulation.

United Kingdom: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Public Consultation on Promoting High Standards of Conduct by Private Military and Security Companies Internationally: Summary of Responses

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The document reviews the proposals on how to best regulate the British private military and security industry collected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the course of the public consultations with NGOs, academics and industry representatives launched in 2009. It highlights the Government’s preference for a non-legally biding approach based on the signing of a Code of Conduct agreed with and monitored by the Government, the use of public contracts as an informal regulatory tool and the establishment of international agreements on standards covering all aspects of PMSC operation and organisation worldwide.

United Kingdom Foreign Enlistment Act (33 and 34 Vict., chapter 90, 1870)

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The 1870 Foreign Enlistment Act makes it an offence for any British citizen to fight in conflicts against states the United Kingdom is at peace with. It also prohibits the recruitment of British citizens for the purpose of fighting in such conflicts. Both mercenary activity and the recruitment of mercenaries are made punishable by fine or imprisonment at the discretion of the court before which the offender is convicted.

United Kingdom: Maritime and Coastguard Agency Measures to Counter Piracy, Armed Robbery and other Acts of Violence against Merchant Shopping

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This Maritime and Coastguard Agency guidance provides links to websites containing information about countering piracy, armed robbery, and other acts of violence against merchant shipping and to DfT’s Interim Guidance to UK flagged shopping on the use of armed guards to defend against the treat of piracy in exceptional circumstances. 

United Kingdom: Written Ministerial Statement: International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers Association Launch

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In this statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the United Kingdom, one of the founding governments of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers Association (ICoCA), not only wants to level the global playing field for the Private Security Companies (PSCs) that work to high, measurable standards, but also strongly encourages all PSCs working in complex environments abroad to both pursue certification to these standards by accredited certifying bodies and to become members of the ICoCA.

United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Public Consultation on Promoting High Standards of Conduct by Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) Internationally: Summary of Responses

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Partners: DCAF

 
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The document reviews the proposals on how to best regulate the British private military and security industry collected by the Foreign and commonwealth office in the course of public consultations with NGOs, academics and industry representatives launched in 2009. It highlights the Government’s preference for raising standards of the UK industry through a Code of Conduct, agreed with and monitored by the Government, using its leverage as a key buyer to raise standards, together with an international agreement on standards covering all aspects of PMSC operation and organization worldwide.

United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Guidance on Contacts with Private Military and Security Companies

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Partners: DCAF

 
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This note provides guidance on contacts between UK Government officials and PMSC personnel in order to avoid that UK officials become involved in activities that would be embarrassing to the UK government.  It requires UK diplomatic and military personnel to seek departmental approval for, and keep written records of, their contacts with PMSCs and notify any suspicion of illegal or unethical activities conducted by private military and security personnel.

Written Ministerial Statement - Promoting High Standards of Conduct by Private Military and Security Companies internationally

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Partners: DCAF

 
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In this statement to Parliament, the UK government announced its policy going forwards in the light of previous consultations, namely to introduce robust regulation in the UK through a trade association based on a voluntary code of conduct agreed with and monitored by the Government; to use its leverage as a key buyer of Private Military and Security Company services to promote compliance with the code; and to seek an international agreement on standards consistent with the UK code covering all aspects of Private Military and Security Company organization and operation worldwide.

United Kingdom: Private Military Companies: Options for Regulation

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This Green Paper originated in a request from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons tooutline options for the control of private military companies which operate out of the UK, its dependencies and the British Islands.  The Paper considered a ban on military activity abroad, a ban on recruitment for military activity abroad, legislation for a licensing regime for military services, legislation for registration and notification, a General Licence for PMCs/PSCs and self-regulation: a Voluntary Code of Conduct.

 

UNITED KINGDOM REPORTS

United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, Tiger Team Final Report, “Contractor Support to Operations"

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Partners: DCAF

 
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Written by a joint team including personnel from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the private military and security industry, the report examines contractor support to UK military operations, its current shortcomings and its future developments. It aims to increase the awareness of the importance of contractor support and the integration between contracted and military personnel.

House Affairs Committee Seventh Report – Olympic Security

Author: House Affairs Committee
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After the failure of G4S to adequately fulfill its security contracts for the London Olympics, the House of Commons issued this investigative report into the matter. The report describes the timeline of events leading up to G4S's personnel shortfall and their poor treatment of incoming staff members. 

United Kingdom: “Report of the Committee of Privy Counsellors Appointed to Inquire into the Recruitment of Mercenaries”

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Written in 1976 in response to the involvement of a number of British citizens  in the civil war in Angola, the Diplock report examines whether the British legal framework prosecuting mercenary activities is effective and appropriate. Maintaining that preventing a UK citizen from accepting service as a mercenary abroad is an unwarranted restriction upon his individual freedom, the report suggests the repeal of the 1970 Foreign Enlistment Act and argues that future regulation should focus on preventing the recruitment of UK citizens for the purpose of fighting abroad rather than prohibiting mercenary activity per se.