ICoCA Launch Marks Significant Step to Improve Private Security Contractor Oversight

Washington, D.C. – This week, in a significant step that Human Rights First notes will advance private security contractors’ respect for human rights while operating in complex environments around the globe, the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) will be formally established to oversee the industry. Human Rights First has been actively involved in Swiss government-led efforts to ensure that private military and security companies operating in armed conflicts and other challenging environments protect human rights and comply with applicable international law.

“The Swiss, U.S., and U.K. governments are to be commended for their efforts, as well as the industry representatives on the Temporary Steering Committee – Triple Canopy, Aegis, GardaWorld, and Drum Cussac. But establishing the Association was the easy part,” said Human Rights First’s Meg Roggensack, who represented Human Rights First on the Temporary Steering Committee, which was responsible for bringing to life the ICoCA, the first real oversight of private security providers. “To ensure that the ICoCA will have an impact, it needs to demonstrate to a skeptical public that contractors are making progress living up to Code requirements, and that governments are linking their procurement decisions to company compliance with the Code.”

Though the vast majority of private contractors do their jobs without incident, problems remain. Within the past decade there have been a series of incidents – notably the killing of unarmed civilians in Nisoor Square, Iraq and detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib – that have brought to light gaps in government accountability and oversight of private security providers.

The ICoCA is born out of a multistakeholder group of governments, private security providers and nongovernmental organizations that have adopted a charter to oversee compliance with the International Code of Conduct (ICoC). The ICoC was adopted in November 2011. Since then, nearly 600 private security providers have signed.

From the earliest days of this process, Human Rights First has played an instrumental role in helping to define the responsibilities of States, and in drafting the ICoC, which focuses on the responsibilities of private security providers under international law. Human Rights First has also released several reports documenting serious private security contractor abuses, including excessive use of force and cruel treatment of detainees. The organization is committed to ensuring that private companies uphold human rights.

“When things go wrong in this industry, lives and livelihoods are immediately and catastrophically at risk. Creation of the ICoCA marks a significant step forward toward proper oversight of private military and security providers, whose work often affects human rights. It also has the potential to address the failure of governments to put adequate oversight mechanisms in place,” concluded Roggensack.


Published on September 18, 2013


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