On 11-12 November 2015, 24 African States gathered to discuss the Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies (PMSCs) during armed conflict.
The regional conference on PMSCs was opened on Wednesday 11 November 2015 by Ms. Anne-Béatrice Bullinger, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti, the African Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). A high level keynote address was delivered by Dr. Tarek Sharif, Head of the Division of Defence and Security, African Union Commission.
The regional conference was co-hosted by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Institute for Peace and Security Studies – Addis Ababa University, and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). The event gathered representatives of African States, as well as the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, and civil society to discuss national and regional experiences with PMSCs and identify concrete ways in which the Montreux Document can advance implementation of PMSC regulations.
The Montreux Document is the product of an intergovernmental initiative, launched jointly in 2006, by Switzerland and the ICRC. The Montreux Document was finalised in 2008 and today, 53 states and 3 international organisations have expressed their support towards it, including 5 African states: Angola, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and most recently Madagascar. The Montreux Document recalls existing obligations of States under international law and lists good practices aimed to assist states in promoting respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law and to help them take national measures to implement these obligations.
The Regional Conference in Addis Ababa followed the 2014 conference in Dakar, Senegal and raised awareness of the Montreux Document in the African context, by encouraging dialogue and debate among States with respect to the regulation and oversight of the PMSC industry.