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November 9, 2010
4:50 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights First

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

58 Firms Sign Historic International Code of Conduct for Private Security Services Providers

Code's Success Depends on Credible Implementation and Accountability

GENEVA - November 9 - Fifty-eight private security companies today signed an historic International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers, an agreement to uphold human rights respecting principles and to establish an inclusive oversight mechanism to verify that these principles are implemented. Human Rights First has participated in the Code drafting process for more than a year and said today's signing has the potential to improve the industry's human rights impacts.

"This Code is a strong document and an important step in building an effective scheme for improving this industry's human rights performance," said Human Rights First's Devon Chaffee, who spoke at today's signing ceremony in Geneva. "But its true value will depend on how it's enforced. Companies signing the Code have committed to establishing a mechanism for robust oversight and governance. The Code's credibility will rest upon the ability of that mechanism to hold signatory companies to account."

Today's ceremony was attended by companies' CEOs from around the world including Ignacio Balderas of Triple Canopy, Gen G J Binns of Aegis Defence Services Ltd., and Matthew R. Kaye of EOD Technology, Inc. Also in attendance were high level officials from the various governments that have been instrumental in the Code process, including Swiss Secretary of State Peter Maurer, U.K. Ambassador John Duncan and U.S. Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State Harold Koh. Ten American companies are among the documents initial signers, including industry leaders such as DynCorp, Triple Canopy, and Xe Services (formerly Blackwater).

Among its provisions, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers lays out concrete requirements governing rules for the use of force, vetting and training personnel, and incident reporting. It also outlines a clear industry commitment to future verification, field auditing, a complaint process, and to a time-tabled roadmap to establish an inclusive governance and oversight mechanism.  We look forward to working with the participating governments and companies to ensure that the oversight mechanism is effective in identifying and addressing negative human rights impacts in the field.

Human Rights First has released a number of reports documenting serious private security contractor abuses including excessive use of force and cruel treatment of detainees. These are documented in State of Affairs: Three Years After Nisoor Square which outlines a number of steps the U.S. government should take to increase contractor accountability abroad. Its work to assist in crafting the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers reflects the organization's ongoing commitment to ensuring that private companies uphold human rights. Along those lines, Human Rights First has played a leading role in similar multi-stakeholder efforts to raise the human rights performances of various industries including in apparel and footwear manufacturing, the Internet and communications sector, and security in the extractive sector.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

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