Private Security Companies and Shared Responsibility: The Turn to Multistakeholder Standard-Setting and Monitoring through Self-Regulation-‘Plus’
SHARES Research Paper 64 (2015)
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This article is part of the collection of articles on Organised Non-State Actors, edited by Jean d'Aspremont, André Nollkaemper, Ilias Plakokefalos and Cedric Ryngaert. The collection was organised with support of the research project on Shared Responsibility in International Law (SHARES) at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) of the University of Amsterdam, the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, and the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies. Published in: (2015) 62 Netherlands International Law Review 119-140.
The rapid and increasing outsourcing of security services by states to Private Security Companies (PSCs) in recent years and associated human rights violations have served as one of the catalysts for long overdue regulation of the global PSC industry. As part of an ‘empirical stocktaking’, this article focuses on current multistakeholder self-regulatory developments in relation to PSCs, in particular the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers and the PSC1 certification standard, and considers their likely impact on the responsibility of states in this area. What is clear is that the traditional conception of international responsibility is ineffectual when applied to PSCs because of its focus on the ex post facto responsibility of states for internationally wrongful acts. Furthermore, the fact that PSCs operate in high risk and complex environments and the fact that their clients are often non-state actors, means that an alternative prophylactic approach to responsibility for human rights violations by PSCs seems to be necessary. As it stands, however, the ‘self-regulation-plus’ approach adopted is not the definitive solution. It lets states off the hook in terms of ensuring that PSCs abide by their human rights obligations, but in doing so this allows states to evade their own obligations to protect human rights.