Center for Human Rights Launches Report to Assess States’ Efforts to Protect Human Rights in Operations of Private Military and Security Companies

Five years after release of Montreux Document States Face Challenges in Meeting Their Commitments


Washington, D.C., November 25, 2013 – The Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law will convene a global group of academics, activists, and experts in the private military and security industry on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at American University Washington College of Law to share the findings of their report, Montreux Five Years On.

The report assesses a number of participating States’ efforts to meet their commitments under the Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict, which was the result of an initiative launched jointly by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Montreux Document defines how international law applies to states and the activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs) and their personnel when they are operating in armed conflict. It contains a set of legal obligations and Good Practices designed to help states take measures nationally in order to fulfil their obligations under international law. Released in September 2008, the Montreux Document is currently supported by 46 states and the European Union.

The private military and security industry has experienced an unprecedented expansion, primarily in conjunction with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of high profile incidents of alleged misconduct drew attention to the limitations of existing legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure adequate control of PMSCs and their personnel. While there are a variety of well-known incidents, like Abu Ghraib or Nisour Square, there are other allegations of abuse occurring today which do not receive similar attention.

Montreux Five Years On finds that, in terms of demonstrated compliance with legal obligations and the implementation of Good Practices, progress has been mixed. Some states have done well in some areas, whereas others lag behind. The report provides recommendations, including the need to ensure better oversight and accountability for PMSCs and their personnel and improve victims’ ability to access justice. 

A multi-stakeholder panel with representatives from governments, civil society, and the private military and security industry will respond to the report and address next steps in the Montreux process.

This report is being released in advance of a conference, Montreux +5, to be held in Montreux, Switzerland from Dec. 11-13. Organized jointly by the Swiss Government and the ICRC, in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the conference will provide an opportunity for states, international organizations, civil society, and industry to share experiences in respect to regulation of PMSCs and to identify ways to support both implementation and wider endorsement of the Montreux Document.

For additional information and to register to attend in-person or via audio online or phone, please visit or contact Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt, co-director of the Center’s Initiative for Human Rights in Business,


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The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law was established at American University Washington College of Law in 1990 to provide scholarship and support for human rights initiatives in the United States and around the world. The Center works with students, academics and practitioners to enhance the understanding and implementation of human rights and humanitarian law domestically, regionally and internationally. The Center explores emerging intersections in the law and seeks to create new tools and strategies for the creative advancement of international norms. In addition to ongoing work with students, which includes skills development seminars, lunchtime learning sessions, and a robust program of more than 50 conferences and workshops per year, the Center runs grant-funded projects which seek to impact and shape the global conversation around a range of key human rights issues. More information about the Center can be found at