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Blog assesses use of human rights indicators in monitoring operations of private security companies

Author: Irene Pietropaoli, co-Director Measuring Business & Human Rights and PhD candidate at the Law school of Middlesex University, London, Published on: 30 September 2014

Private security companies (PSCs) often operate in areas of conflict or weak governance...[G]overnments and industry representatives, sometimes with civil society’s participation, have developed several guidelines and codes of conduct that seek PSCs commitment to human rights standards and monitor their activities. Two key multi-stakeholder initiatives are the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC), and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights(VPs). The credibility of these initiatives depends on their adoption of effective oversight and reliable complaints mechanisms that ensure remedy for victims, and a greater capacity to monitor compliance and to sanction non-compliance. The efficacy will also rely on PSCs acceptance of such independent external oversight, and on governments and other clients’ commitment to hiring only PSCs that are in full compliance. There is also a need for an open, transparent consultation process that includes extensive outreach to attract appropriate stakeholders and ensures that audits are conducted with the necessary human rights expertise. Assessing measurable criteria in relation to the human rights risk conducted as part of the certification process, needs to amount to more than a desk-based box-ticking exercise....A transparent and public report of lessons learned would be useful also to determine the compatibility between these initiatives. These steps may help to increase transparency and disclosure concerning the activities of PSCs, and to hold them accountable for human rights abuses.

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