ICoCA was invited to make a keynote presentation at an Extraordinary Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention at the UN in Geneva on June 24, 2022. The roundtable meeting on environmental defenders provided the opportunity for ICoCA to highlight the connection between between environmental defenders, human rights and private security. To read the full statement, click here.

Security industry growth fuelled by rising insecurity

The private security industry has experienced sustained growth over the last decade and this is set to continue. This growth has been fuelled by growing insecurity and a rise in conflict at a time when state security is being scaled back. Conflict is often driven by the ever-growing demand for resources, with companies displacing communities whose livelihoods rely on the land, resulting in tensions over access to land and resources compounded by the backdrop of an increasingly stressed natural environment.

Intersection of private security, human rights and environmental defenders cuts across all sectors

Private security providers are contracted by governments, corporations and non-governmental organisations to secure access to land and resources. This often leads to human rights abuses against environmental defenders. Latin America is particularly problematic for environmental defenders with private security providers contracted by all sectors and industries across the continent.

How regulation and oversight of the private security sector can help

Developments to strengthen national regulatory frameworks of private security companies have been uneven and in numerous regions there remain many unregulated private security companies.

ICoCA has been shown to be an important platform to enable the practical implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, on improving access to remedy and ensuring accountability. The multi-stakeholder nature of ICoCA represents one of its greatest strengths in that it coalesces the perspectives and interests of civil society organisations, governments, private security companies and other stakeholders, that together help drive the purpose of the Association.

That being said, more support is needed for civil society organisations, especially those based in the global south, including organisations representing indigenous people’s and other environmental defenders who come into conflict with private security providers and their clients. ICoCA encourages civil society organisations, including those representing environmental defenders, to engage with the Association, to contribute to monitoring the sector and advocating for better regulation and oversight.