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Switzerland: Conference highlights efforts to regulate private security companies

13-12-2013 News Release 13/230

Geneva (ICRC) – Representatives of some 60 countries and of international organizations, civil society and private companies came together in the Swiss city of Montreux from 11 to 13 December to reiterate their commitment to improving the legal framework for all private military and security companies (PMSCs).

The three-day conference, called "Montreux+5," was organized jointly by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). It took place five years after the adoption of the Montreux Document, in which States agree on how international humanitarian law and international human rights law apply to the activities of private military and security companies during armed conflict. Conference participants agreed to step up their efforts to ensure that the activities of private military and security companies are regulated by States.

"We received strong support from all participants, which enabled us to make significant progress. The number of signatory States increased from 17 in 2008 to 49 today, with three international organizations – the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – also joining this initiative," said Philippe Spoerri, the ICRC's director for international law and cooperation. "States' obligations with respect to the activities of private military and security companies in armed conflict have become better understood. The argument that these companies operate in a legal void is no longer valid."

These three days were an opportunity to confirm support from States and international organizations for the Montreux Document. The event was also an opportunity to take stock of recent progress in regulating PMSCs, and of the influence and catalysing effect of the document. The participants recognised the need for greater efforts to ensure its implementation, for personnel in the industry to undergo further training and for the industry to be made more accountable. They also discussed such challenges as the development and regulation of the private maritime security sector.

The conference was opened on 11 December by Didier Burkhalter, Swiss foreign minister, and Christine Beerli, vice-president of the ICRC. Background research was prepared by DCAF, based on information provided by participating States, which presented a report entitled "Progress and Opportunities, Five Years On: Challenges and Recommendations for Montreux Document Endorsing States."

For all documents pertaining to Montreux+5:

Privatization of war: Montreux+5 Conference

For further information, please contact:
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10; Twitter @AHeebICRC