This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict (Montreux Document). Supported by 46 States and the European Union, the Montreux Document restates existing international humanitarian and human rights law obligations of States, private military and security companies (PMSCs), and PMSC personnel during armed conflict. It also details Good Practices designed to help Contracting, Territorial, and Home States implement their legal obligations through national measures. Additionally, the Montreux Document suggests that the existing legal obligations and Good Practices may be instructive for States, PMSCs, and other clients and stakeholders of the private military and security industry (PMSI) beyond the context of armed conflict.
With the unprecedented expansion of the PMSI, primarily in conjunction with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number of high profile incidents of alleged misconduct drew attention to the limitations of existing legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure adequate control of PMSCs and their personnel. The Montreux Document, drafted under the leadership of the Swiss government’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross, addressed the prevailing concern at the time that PMSCs operated in a potential legal vacuum. It reaffirms, for example, that international humanitarian law and human rights apply during armed conflict, and that States do not avoid their obligations when they contract out activities to PMSCs. It clarifies that States have an obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law by PMSCs and their personnel, and to adequately regulate and hold them accountable for their conduct. The Montreux Document also set the stage for other regulatory efforts, such as the development of the multi-stakeholder International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC), which is directed at PMSCs and lays out their responsibilities to respect human rights and comply with humanitarian law when providing security services.
For the first time in the five years since the completion of the Montreux Document, participating States in the Montreux process and other stakeholders will convene from December 11-13, 2013 in Montreux, Switzerland to share experiences, discuss best practices, identify implementation challenges, and find ways to support wider endorsement of the Montreux Document. This report, “Montreux Five Years On,” which was drafted by a global team of academics, experts, and activists, utilizes this opportunity to provide an assessment of participating States’ efforts to meet their legal obligations and implement the Good Practices. It identifies where participating States have faced challenges in meeting their commitments, and it provides a set of country specific and general recommendations that highlight means to improve implementation, as well as noting issues that remain unaddressed by the Montreux process.
The report focuses on a subset of participating States: two Contracting and Home States (the United States and the United Kingdom), two Territorial States (Iraq and Afghanistan), and a special feature on one region (Latin America and the Caribbean). The report goes on to detail and assess the U.S., U.K., Iraq, and Afghanistan’s efforts to meet their Montreux Document commitments as captured in five categories: 1. Determination of services; 2. Due diligence in selecting, contracting, and authorizing PMSCs; 3. Due diligence in monitoring PMSC activities; 4. Ensuring accountability; and 5. Providing access to effective remedy. In addition, two side bars assess two African participating States’ – South Africa and Sierra Leone – commitment to, and implementation of, the Montreux Document. A third side bar examines the UN’s use of PMSCs. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.