The Montreux Document Forum plays a vital role in supporting national implementation of regulation of private military and security companies. The Montreux +5 Conference, held five years after finalising the initiative, stressed the need for a more effective and comprehensive application of legal obligations and good practices contained in the Montreux Document on a national level. As former President of the Swiss Federation, Didier Burkhalter put it, “regular dialogue between states and international organisations that have endorsed the Montreux Document may well help us achieve full compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights." In light of these challenges, the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, in its Secretariat function to the MDF, continuously conducts policy research and develops comprehensive guidance tools that support national implementation of the Montreux Document.

Challenges to Implementation

The Forum offers support to governments in various aspects of implementation processes. TheMontreux+5 Conference identified several main challenges to the effective regulation of PMSCS: determination of services, extraterritorial applicability of legislation and licensing and authorization systems.

Determination of services

To ensure respect for IHL and international human rights law it is essential that states enact laws that clearly determine which services may or may not be performed by PMSCs. Laws should delineate among risk management, training and advisory functions and those activities that may lead PMSCs to become involved in direct participation in hostilities.

Extraterritorial applicability of legislation

The multinational nature of PMSCs contributes to challenges for national legislation. States, whose domestic law prohibits their nationals from working for PMSCs abroad, have pointed out difficulties in ensuring that other states and companies respect their laws. Further cooperation and discussion is needed in this regard.

Licensing and authorisation systems

Ensuring that existing licensing and authorisation systems are able to effectively perform their tasks is also a way for states to ensure respect for the Montreux Document. Sufficient resources are essential for these agencies to perform their work, which may involve screening of past conduct, compliance with relevant regulations, licensing with regard to weapons and assessing adequate training. It is expected that the MDF will play a role in supporting MD participants with the effective implementation of the legal obligations and good practices.


Mapping study on Montreux Document outreach and implementation

This study seeks to inform Montreux Document participants on the strengths as well as the key remaining challenges in outreach and implementation and is designed to capture legislative practice by national authorities in their efforts to implement the rules and good practices of the Montreux Document. Additionally, this study seeks to identify themes and geographical regions that could benefit from further research, implementation, capacity building, outreach, and knowledge sharing. As such, the study intends to promote discussion in the MDF as well as offer momentum and direction for the work of the MDF related to implementation and promotion of the Montreux Document. Download the Mapping Study here.

Download Mapping study.

Progress and opportunities: challenges and recommendations for Montreux Document participants

In preparation of the Montreux+5 Conference, Switzerland commissioned DCAF to carry out a study exploring the level of implementation of Montreux Document good practices across participating states and international organisations. The resulting report drew on a combination of research and information gathered on the occasion of four regional conferences as well as national reports provided by Montreux Document participants on the invitation of Switzerland and the ICRC. The study assesses progress and highlights gaps where the Montreux Document could be more effectively implemented.

Download report.

Practical Tools

Contract Guidance Tool

States, international organisations, humanitarian organisations and non-governmental organisations increasingly hire PMSCs to support their security, in particular in situations of armed conflict or post-conflict environments.

Nevertheless, the selection of a potential PMSC contractor is often primarily based on the ‘lowest price’ criteria. This practice can be harmful to a client’s reputation and risks leading to lower standards in the industry in general. Once a PMSC is hired, the performance and profile of the company and its personnel may also be associated with the client’s image.

The role of clients is fundamental, as commercial incentives and restrictions in the contract can help compel private military and security providers to adhere to relevant human rights and IHL obligations. Contracts can also be a powerful legal tool to reinforce high standards. Yet, there is scarce shared information and experience to support developing contracts that ensure respect with these principles and rules. Reputational risks can also be mitigated with a contracting process which includes effective screening and vetting procedures.

The Contract Guidance Tool draws on leading international norms and standards to reflect the principles of responsible procurement and contracting practices, and provides clear and practical guidelines for national contracting officers or procurement specialists. By translating knowledge and research into a practical and easy-to-use format, the Contract Guidance Tool provides implementation support for those individuals drafting, implementing, and monitoring contracts with PMSCs.

Download the tool here

Legislative Guidance Tool

The Guidance Tool is intended to support States in their efforts to craft effective and modern legislation on PMSCs. This practical handbook provides a blueprint for parliamentarians, legislators, as well as law and policy makers,  to develop or update national legislation related to PMSCs, in line with international legal obligations and taking into account good practices.

Drawing heavily on the Montreux Document as well as other international initiatives, the Guidance Tool raises awareness of existing national practices in national legislation. Hence, the tool is aimed at national actors who are developing or updating laws for the national regulation of the private military and security industry. These actors are in the unique position to ensure that democratic oversight is established and maintained to achieve transparency and accountability within this burgeoning sector of the security industry. The Legislative Guidance Tool offers support for States facing regulatory challenges, such as which types of military or security functions to outsource to private companies, how to monitor the activities of PMSCs and how to respond to abuses of human rights and violations of IHL by PMSCs where they do occur, as well as what mechanisms for effective remedies can be developed to help victims.

Download the tool here:

Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate PMSCs (EN)

Guía Legislative para Estados sobre la Regulación de las Empresas Militares y de SEguridad Privadas (ES)

Guide Législatif pour la Réglementation par les États des Entreprises Militaires et de Sécurité Privées (FR)

Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate PMSCs (MO &RO)

Посібник для держав з питань законодавчого регулювання приватних військових та охоронних компаній (UK)

Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate PMSCs (AZ) 

Legislative Guidance Tool for States to Regulate PMSCs (AR)