DCAF actively supports and promotes international efforts to regulate the private security industry. This includes the promotion of two complementary initiatives:


The Montreux Document

The Montreux Document is the result of a joint initiative launched by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2006. The Montreux Document clarifies the misconception that PMSCs operate in a legal vacuum by recalling pertinent international legal obligations and encouraging good practices for states related to operations of PMSCs. The Document outlines the existing obligations of states under international humanitarian law and human rights law and lists good practices designed to help states implement these obligations. The Montreux Document is supported by 54 states and three international organisations.


DCAF is the strategic partner of Switzerland in its role as co-convener of the Montreux Document. Through targeted research, awareness-raising, knowledge building and tool development, DCAF supports the development, outreach and implementation of the Montreux Document. 

 Montreux Document Forum 

At the Montreux +5 conference in 2013 the need for more regular dialogue and exchange on relevant good practices was emphasised, in order to improve the implementation of the Montreux Document. The Montreux Document Forum (MDF) was established in September 2014 to support implementation by states and international organisations, and to provide insight into real challenges and practices. DCAF is the Secretariat of the MDF and provides support to the development, outreach and implementation of the Montreux Document.


Priorities and Activities


  • Co-hosting a multi-year programme of conferences to promote the  Montreux Document. To date, conferences have been held in Chile (2011), Mongolia (2011), Australia (2012), Philippines (2013) and Senegal (2014), And most recently  in November 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Carrying out awareness-raising and knowledge-building activities with multilateral and bilateral actors based in Geneva.



  • Supporting the Montreux Document Forum (MDF). By providing a venue for informal consultation among Montreux Document participants, the MDF aims to strengthen dialogue on lessons learned, good practices, and challenges related to the regulation of PMSCs. The MDF is currently chaired by Switzerland and the ICRC.  


  • Developing targeted tools and knowledge products to support national, regional and multilateral actors in their implementation of the Montreux Document. To identify concrete ways in which the Montreux Document can advance implementation of private security regulation at the national level, DCAF carried out a major research study drawing on desk research, information gathered at four regional conferences, and national reports provided by Montreux Document participants. The resulting report, Progress and Opportunities: Challenges and Recommendations for Montreux Document Participants  is available in English and French.

Learn more about the Montreux Document Forum



The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC)


The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) is the result of a multi-stakeholder initiative launched by Switzerland. The over-arching objective of the initiative is to articulate human rights responsibilities of private security companies (PSCs), and to set out international principles and standards for the responsible provision of private security services, particularly when operating in complex environments.


The International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) is a multi-stakeholder initiative established in 2013 as a Swiss non-profit association, in which three membership pillars, namely states, private security companies and civil society organisations, jointly oversee the implementation of the ICoC by PSC members. As Switerland's strategic implementing partner, DCAF supports the ICoCA.


The ICoC and private maritime security companies 

Many States have or are in the process of developing regulations for private maritime security companies. However, there has been little exchange of information regarding the design and implementation of these regulations. To share knowledge on this topic, DCAF organised a seminar where four different approaches to PMSC regulation were set out and discussed among States. A special focus was given to how the ICoC could be a useful tool within regulation. The report can be found here.


Priorities and Activities


  • Supporting the operationalisation of the ICoCA, in particular the development of its operational processes.


  • Promoting the ICoC initiative and its implementation through the development of tools, organisation of outreach events and support to different stakeholders to facilitate their participation in this multi-stakeholder process.

Learn more about the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA)



Other International Initiatives


DCAF supports relevant international initiatives in the private security field including the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, and the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group that seeks to elaborate an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of PMSCs.


Priorities and Activities


  • Exchanging knowledge and research on relevant national good practices for PMSC regulation.


  • Supporting networks of civil society and government practitioners and raising awareness on the need for more effective regulation.