31 Dec 2010

International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers

"Private Security Companies and other Private Security Service Providers play an important role in protecting state and non-state clients engaged in relief, recovery, and reconstruction efforts, commercial business operations, diplomacy and military activity. In providing these services, the activities of PSCs can have potentially positive and negative consequences for their clients, the local population in the area of operation, the general security environment, the enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law."
The above words are quoted from the Preamble of the document titled "International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers", a seventy-para document which has been accepted by fifty-eight international private security provider firms "with the objective of strengthening respect for human rights and humanitarian law within their operations". Nils Rosemann from of the Human Security and Business Desk of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in his post has informed that "the International Code of Conduct was developed through a multi-stakeholder process" and comes to reaffirm the stand of the private security providers that even "these companies often operate in contexts in which governmental authority is absent or the rule of law is compromised, [it] does not mean that they operate outside of the law, nor does it mean that the provision of security services aims to replace governmental state sovereignty over the use and legitimate exercise of force". He further states that the Code of Conduct "is more than just a 'gap filler' or a normative reaffirmation by non-state actors. The Code is a practice oriented tool."

The seventy paragraph Code covers various aspect which may desirably form a part of any international commitment on the issue. While containing some general stipulations regarding the standard of behavior of these firms and their employees (such as "require their Personnel to, treat all persons humanely and with respect for their dignity and privacy"), it provides a Rules regarding the use of force, detention, apprehending persons, etc. It also carries stipulations on 'prohibition of Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment'; against 'Sexual Exploitation and Abuse or Gender-Based Violence', 'Human Trafficking', and so on.

Generally, the Code of Conduct also makes provisioning against Slavery and Forced Labour; Discrimination; etc. while on a more specific note it also draws specific commitments regarding management and governance from the signatories. The Code also provides for its own implementation provisions wherein it is inter alia provided that "upon signature of the Code, Signatory Companies and other stakeholders will undertake to work with national standards bodies as appropriate to develop standards, with the intent that any national standards would eventually be harmonized in an international set of standards based on the Code."

The Signatories to the Code have committed to the following;
a) to operate in accordance with this Code;
b) to operate in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and in accordance with relevant corporate standards of business conduct;
c) to operate in a manner that recognizes and supports the rule of law; respects human rights, and protects the interests of their clients;
d) to take steps to establish and maintain an effective internal governance framework in order to deter, monitor, report, and effectively address adverse impacts on human rights;
e) to provide a means for responding to and resolving allegations of activity that violates any applicable national or international law or this Code; and  
f) to cooperate in good faith with national and international authorities exercising proper jurisdiction, in particular with regard to national and international investigations of violations of national and international criminal law, of violations of international humanitarian law, or of human rights abuses.
An interesting development, one must say.

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