ICoCA’s tenth Annual General Assembly (AGA), open to ICoCA Members, Affiliates, Observers, took place in Geneva, Switzerland on 4 and 5 December 2023.
Marking 10 years of ICoCA: A Strategic Footprint in Reflection
Commencing with pillar meetings, the AGA served as a platform for Members, Affiliates and Observers to engage in collaborative brainstorming and contribute to the development of the Association’s forthcoming 2024-2028 strategic plan. The sessions functioned as inclusive consultations, aiming to collect a diverse range of ideas and input. Participants were encouraged to share their insights on strategic priorities and potential focal areas for the Association going forward.
Celebrating the milestone of ICoCA’s 10th Anniversary, the opening panel of the AGA retraced the Association’s creation and evolution over the last decade. Building on this nostalgic review, the ensuing panel discussion unpacked ICoCA’s vision as the Association continues to evolve. An increased global footprint, an enhanced collaboration between civil society organisations (CSOs) and private security companies (PSCs), an expanded state and client participation and the adaptation to evolving technologies, were just some of the issues earmarked as being critical as ICoCA moves into its next strategic phase. Underpinning this vision, the panel noted that the commitment to fostering trust through open and challenging dialogues should remain a cornerstone, alongside a focus on regional investment for industry growth.
AGA participants then had the opportunity to attend parallel thematic and training sessions on working conditions in the private security industry; ESG considerations; accountability; gender, women, peace, security; and the reduction of the risk of human rights abuses related to canines in private security operations.
The results of ICoCA’s working conditions report and policy brief, which were developed in partnership with UNI Global Union and the University of Denver, provided the foundations for in-person exchanges around employment conditions in the private security industry. In line with ICoCA’s mission, this research explored working conditions through a human rights lens, assessing how working conditions intersect with the rights of personnel and the ways in which they can shape personnel’s treatment of the public. In view of ICoCA, investing in working conditions is an opportunity for clients, companies, governments and other stakeholders to raise industry standards by protecting the rights of workers and elevating the delivery of services by fostering a culture of care and respect in the industry.
During a thematic session on progress tracking through certification, human rights due diligence and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) considerations, participants navigated the complexities of ESG considerations in the private security sector. Emphasising the challenges and opportunities, the conversation highlighted ICoCA’s Investor ESG Guide on Private Security and Human Rights and ESG Rating Methodology as key resources for engaging investors and aligning with ESG standards. The imminent EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) and the need for streamlined reporting mechanisms were central themes, with speakers anticipating collaborative efforts between ICoCA and the Voluntary Principles Initiative to elevate industry standards in the dynamic realm of ESG compliance.
When it comes to addressing human rights abuses, ensuring real accountability for any wrongdoing by private security industry personnel is an important objective. A training session on accountability delved into topics such as membership thresholds, broadening the Association’s influence, engaging with victims and establishing clear procedures for resolving complaints. Key insights underscored the importance of universal best practices, enhanced accessibility in the complaints process and customised solutions based on complainant categorisation. The discussions tackled a range of issues including the safeguarding of complainants, maintaining a balance in information disclosure and highlighting the significance of a mutually beneficial complaint process for effective resolution and continual improvement. The conversation also covered issues related to conflicts arising from the demands of clients and the standards set by ICoCA.
Shaping the Next Decade
The 2023 AGA marked the result a year-long consultation process to develop ICoCA’s 2024-2028 strategic plan. In hindsight, the 2019-2023 plan, adopted during a period of the Association’s identity struggle, was recognised for its practicality and compromise in addressing diverse views on certification, monitoring and complaints within the Board and the 3 Pillars. Despite its moderate ambition, the plan laid robust foundations over the past 5 years. Shifting focus to a new strategic plan, the aim is now to move beyond operational considerations, placing emphasis on heightened ambition and creativity, and strengthened impact globally. The 2024-2028 plan is envisioned as a dynamic communication and outreach tool to strategically position the organisation amidst the evolving security industry landscape. Jamie Williamson, Executive Director of ICoCA, presented the four emerging themes that will contribute to shaping this forward-looking plan:
The AGA was followed on 6 December by the first-ever Responsible Security Forum, an event bringing together security practitioners, experts and researchers to assess the evolving security landscape and explore innovative solutions through topical panel discussions. Read more here.
View more photos from the event on this link.