A Practical Guide to Private Security for Civil Society Organisations
What is private security? What does the International Code of Conduct cover? And what roles can civil society organisations play to promote responsible private security? Three partners, DCAF – the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, the Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Social et Environnementale (OEARSE) and the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) have been working hard during the past 15 months to address these questions received from civil society organisations (CSOs).
Thanks to the generous support of the UK Government and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Peace and Human Rights Division, project partners developed a practical guide for civil society on collecting, documenting and reporting on private security and adapted it to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) context. The tool provides an overview of international norms and standards applying to private security and includes good practices and additional elements to consider when integrating a private security focus in larger human rights promotion and protection work.
Engaging Civil Society Organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
13 CSOs based in 10 different provinces in DRC (South Kivu, North Kivu, Tshopo, Kasaï Oriental, Kongo Central, Lualaba, Maniema, Ituri, Haut Katanga, Kinshasa) supported the contextualisation of this practical guide by compiling information on the private security industry in their respective provinces and validating their findings during multi-stakeholder workshops.
With the support of selected CSOs over 75 civil society organisations and 10 representatives of local regulatory authorities based in five provinces (North Kivu, Ituri, Lualaba, Kinshasa, Kasaï Oriental) were introduced to the practical guide and provided feedback. Participation of the regulator was welcomed given the state’s reliance on CSO support to exercise effective oversight of private security. The tool was further tested by three monitoring expert organisations
“The practical guide is a tool of primary necessity for the promotion of private security governance, a useful tool not only for civil society but also for private security companies and their guards as well as for clients. Hence there’s an urgent need to disseminate it.”
Challenges with private security industry in DRC
During these exchanges, CSOs highlighted a range of challenges with regard to the private security industry operating in DRC:
“We don’t understand how some International Organisations can use a PSC that is not recognised at the provincial level even though it is authorised at the national level.”
“In the context of the DRC the tool needs to look at the actual ownership of the Private Security Company. Because in many cases the Private Security Companies belong to the political and military elite that are sometimes involved in many human rights violations.”
Recommendations of CSOs
To start addressing these challenges, CSOs recommended that:
“Hence [referring to incidents of inhuman treatment] the importance of raising awareness about respect for human values in the workplace.”
Call for Support
With the launch of this practical guide, project partners hope that an important step towards implementing these recommendations has been taken and that efforts will be able to continue. As financing for this project ended in March 2021, project partners call for continued donor support to ensure sustainability of these efforts and increasing dynamic in DRC.
These are intended as living documents and will be updated as the practical guide is rolled out further. Project partners welcome all feedback.
CSO workshop introducing the tool in Kasaï Oriental, DRC
4 March, 2021