International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

I had briefly mentioned the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers when I wrote about the recent IPOA annual summit.

But I wan to commend it to your attention. Although I have been skeptical in the past about codes of conduct at a company or trade association level the fact that we are talking about an international one raises the bar for accountability, which is unquestionably a good thing.

Let me just highlight a few section that I think merit particular applause.

While I don't normally turn to Donald Rumsfeld as a useful source let's recall that in 2003 he wrote a memo on fighting the "Global War on Terror" in which he said, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." One might say something similar today about private military and security contractors (PMSC), meaning do we really have the procedures in places to measure progress towards effective accountability of PMSC. That is why I like this part of the code:

Signatory Companies accordingly commit to work with states, other Signatory Companies, Clients and other relevant stakeholders after initial endorsement of this Code to, within 18 months:

a) Establish objective and measurable standards for providing Security Services based upon this Code, with the objective of realizing common and internationally-recognized operational and business practice standards; and
b) Establish external independent mechanisms for effective governance and oversight, which will include Certification of Signatory Companies' compliance with the Code's principles and the standards derived from the Code, beginning with adequate policies and procedures, Auditing and Monitoring of their work in the field, including Reporting, and execution of a mechanism to address alleged violations of the Code's principles or the standards derived from the Code.

The code has sixteen pages of what PMSC should do and not do so I won't cite it here. But let's give credit to the companies for making a good faith effort to address the concerns of its critics. It could not have been easy, to put it mildly, to get all the stakeholders to agree to this. If anyone is going to be in Geneva, Switzerland on November 9 they should definitely stop by for the signing ceremony.