Hide Message

Updating the Resource Centre Digital Platform

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is at a critical point in its development. Our digital platform is home to a wealth of information on business and human rights, but hasn’t had a visual refresh for a number of years.

We will soon be updating the site to improve its usability and better serve the thousands of people that use our site to support their work.

Please take an advance peek at our new look, and let us know what you think!

Thank you,
Alex Guy, Digital Officer

Find Out More Hide Message

Montreux Document - a process aimed at governments

The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies is an inter-state document.  It describes how international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law, applies to private military and security companies (PMSCs) when these are present in armed conflict.  It is the result of a joint initiative launched by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2006. After various rounds of discussions, 17 states jointly finalised the document at a meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, on 17 September 2008.  Civil society and industry were consulted during the drafting. Since its release, another 35 states have expressed their support for the document (as of June 2015).  This brings the total to 52 countries.  The European Union has also joined the document.  

The Montreux Document expresses the view of participant states that there is no legal vacuum for the activities of PMSCs in areas of armed conflict.  The document is not legally binding in itself, but refers to existing international law with the intention to clarify obligations and to promote respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law.

The document is divided into two parts: pertinent international legal obligations relating to PMSCs and good practices relating to PMSCs.  In the first part, obligations of different actors under international humanitarian law and human rights law are outlined. These actors include contracting states, territorial states, home states, PMSCs and their personnel and superiors.  Furthermore, state responsibility for private conduct under international customary law is addressed.

In the second part, some 70 "best practices" are outlined.  These are formulated as recommendations directed at states and are largely based on state regulations in relation to PMSCs and/or armed forces.  The scope of the best practices ranges from contracting and authorisation of PMSCs to ensuring prosecution of PMSC personnel in case of serious breaches of law.

In December 2014 the Montreux Document Forum was established as a platform for participants to share & discuss good practices and challenges regarding the regulation of PMSCs. 

A complementary Global Code of Conduct for the security industry has been developed.  For further information on this initiative click here.

A selection of key reports on the Montreux Document is accessible below.

For further reports & articles, see the Resource Centre’s general section on the Montreux Document under the title "Swiss government & ICRC initiative on private military & security companies".

Official website & document

Montreux initiative

[Español] Documento de Montreux

[Français] Initiative de Montreux

Arabic, Chinese, Russian

Reports and commentaries



Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

5 August 2015

Madagascar becomes 53rd state to support the Montreux Document on obligations of private military & security companies

Author: Intl. Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

A round table to present the Montreux Document to the Malagasy authorities was held on 18 June 2015 in the capital Antananarivo...The Montreux Document summarizes the international legal obligations applicable to private military and security companies...

Read more

16 December 2014

Montreux Document participants establish the Montreux Document Forum

Author: Intl. Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

"Private military and security companies: Implementation of Montreux document"...

Read more

3 July 2014

Commentary on new international security operations management standard & human rights

Author: Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt (American University Washington College of Law) for Private Security Monitor

"A New Twist to Management Standards, Bringing in Human Rights", June 2014...

Read more

11 December 2013
+ Français - Hide

Author: ATS (Agence Télégraphique Suisse)

Le Document de Montreux est un succès, mais il faut gagner l'adhésion de l'Afrique, a déclaré Didier Burkhalter…devant la Conférence internationale Montreux+5. Ce texte lancé par la Suisse en 2008 décrit le droit international applicable aux activités...

Read more

10 December 2013

Privatization of war: Montreux+5 Conference

Author: Intl. Committee of the Red Cross

The Montreux+5 Conference will be an opportunity for States and international organizations to share experiences on regulating private military and security companies and look at how to promote the Montreux document on the operations of such companies...

Read more

1 January 2011
+ Español - Hide

Author: Centro para el Control Democrático de las Fuerzas Armadas de Ginebra (DCAF)

El 12 y 13 de Mayo del 2011, se convoco un seminario en Santiago, Chile para discutir el Documento de Montreux sobre las Obligaciones Internacionales Pertinentes a las Buenas Practicas de los Estados respecto a las Operaciones de Empresas Militares y...

Read more

1 January 2011

[PDF] The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies: Proceedings of the Regional Workshop for Latin America

Author: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)

On the 12th and 13th of May 2011 a workshop was held in Santiago, Chile, to discuss the “Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices for States related to Operations of Private Military and Security Companies...

Read more

1 November 2008

Regulating Private Military and Security Companies: The Content, Negotiation, Weaknesses and Promise of the Montreux Document

Author: James Cockayne, Journal of Conflict and Security Law

On 17 September 2008, 17 states…endorsed the ‘Montreux Document’ affirming the legal obligations and describing good practices…related to operations of private military and security companies…[The author] provide[s] an overview of the Montreux Document...

Read more

14 October 2008

Amnesty International Public Statement on the Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices for States related to the Operations of Private Military and Security Companies during Armed Conflict

Author: Amnesty International USA

The Montreux Document…contains many useful elements, particularly in the Good Practices section. However, there are also a number of substantive gaps…particularly in relation to the international law section, if the text is to be effective…The...

Read more

10 October 2008

Busting the Unaccountability Myth

Author: David Isenberg, United Press International

[O]n Sept. 17 that the "Montreux Document" was released…The document is divided into two sections. The first highlights existing international laws with which such companies should comply…The second lists some 70 "good practices"…These include:...

Read more