A New Framework for More Accountability and Victim Protection Within the PMSC Sector


From 17-21st April 2023, an ICoCA delegation participated in the fourth session of the United Nations’ open-ended intergovernmental working group to develop an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring, and oversight of private military (PMCs) and security companies (PSCs). This instrument aims to build upon the Montreux Document’s reaffirming of State obligations to monitor the activities of PMCs and PSCs by ensuring accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The working group, headed by Chair-Rapporteur Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi of South Africa, was established by Human Rights Council resolution 36/11 in September 2017 and renewed for further discussion in October 2020. This most recent conference amended the draft based on inputs from the previous session last May and intersessional consultations. The working group has yet to reach a consensus on the regulatory framework, and negotiations are set to continue.

Around the world, States are becoming increasingly reliant on private military and security companies for protection. However, considerable changes to the private security sector and the evolving roles of PMCs and PSCs have resulted in greater human rights risks and violations within the current global context. As the industry continues to grow, this working group presents an opportunity for States to reinforce the protection of human rights by holding companies accountable and providing protection to victims of human rights abuses. An updated framework may offer more universality while complimenting the guidance of the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (“the Code”).

ICoCA works to ensure that private security providers are compliant with the Code and actively respect international human rights and humanitarian law. The Association recognises that States are the primary responsible parties for holding accountable perpetrators of human rights and humanitarian law abuses. ICoCA believes that were a regulatory framework to be adopted, ICoCA offers States an important mechanism to enable them to implement their pre-existing international legal obligations, including relevant element of the draft regulatory instrument. During the April 2023 session, ICoCA representatives reaffirmed the Association’s support for both national and international initiatives to raise industry standards through a stronger accountability mechanism and access to remedy for victims of human rights violations. The Association acknowledged that although proper monitoring and due diligence procedures for private military and security companies are essential for mitigating human rights risks, it is imperative that generalisations condemning the PMSC industry as a whole are avoided. Before the end of the five-day conference, ICoCA’s recommended inclusion of a mandatory prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) training was accepted by the working group.

For ten years, ICoCA has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the values enshrined in the Montreux Document and seeks to support States in their monitoring of private military and security contractors worldwide.