Government Contracting of Private Military and Security Companies

IPI convened a retreat last week with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Greentree Foundation to generate recommendations for states contracting private military and security companies. In the wake of the recent scandal around the alleged killing of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater contractors, it is becoming all too clear how contractor misconduct eventually comes back to hurt whoever is footing the bill.

As a result, many governments and private security companies are ready to talk about more stringent contracting arrangements. Last week, IPI, in cooperation with the Swiss government, convened consultations among government contracting experts to identify good practice in government contracting of private military and security companies.

The meeting, one of four Expert Consultations within the Swiss Initiative on Private Military and Security Companies, produced inputs for a non-binding but authoritative paper which is expected to be approved by governments in 2008. The focus of the Initiative is ensuring respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law.

The meeting drew together experts from government, civil society and academia in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and beyond. The talks made considerable progress, generating recommendations relating to the selection of contractors, vetting, training, contract management, monitoring and enforcement. The Swiss Initiative paper will likely contain an affirmation of applicable international law as well as elements of good practice for states dealing with private military and security companies, whether as contracting clients, host-nation regulators or export regulators.

Additional Information

Additional information regarding the Swiss Initiative is available at

To download full press release click here

For Op-Ed by IPI Associate, James Cockayne click here