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The Montreux Document

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 (herein after the Montreux Document) is an intergovernmental initiative, launched cooperatively by Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross, supported by DCAF, to promote respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law whenever private military and security companies (PMSCs) are present in armed conflicts. The Montreux Document encourages the adoption of national regulations on PMSCs designed to strengthen respect for international law. The Montreux Document also offers practical guidance in contexts outside situations of armed conflicts as its good practices are best implemented during peacetime.

The Montreux Document was endorsed by seventeen states when it was first adopted in 2008. Eight years later, 53 states and three intergovernmental organisations have endorsed the Montreux Document. Together, they represent an enormous knowledge base of good practice reflecting a variety of legal systems and different experiences of private military and security companies.

In December 2014, the Montreux Document Forum (MDF) was launched by Switzerland, the ICRC, DCAF and Montreux Document participants to provide a centre of gravity for the initiative. As a venue for informal consultation among Montreux Document participants, the MDF seeks to support national implementation of the Montreux Document, as well as to bring more states and international organisations to actively support it. The MDF further aims to strengthen dialogue on lessons learned, good practices and challenges related to the regulation of PMSCs. The Montreux Document Forum gathered in January 2016 for a second Plenary meeting where participants discussed further challenges to national implementation, including in contexts of maritime security. The MDF is co-chaired by Switzerland and the ICRC; DCAF supports the MDF as the Secretariat.

The Montreux Document forms part of the ‘Swiss Initiative’ on private security regulation. It is a complementary initiative to the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Services Providers with a shared goal of promoting effective regulation of the international private security industry.

Current priorities

  • Building political support for the Montreux Document among states and intergovernmental organisations: To support and raise awareness of the Montreux Document and its good practices, Switzerland and the ICRC, jointly with DCAF, engage in a multi-year programme of regional conferences. To date, conferences have been held in Chile (2011), Mongolia (2011), Australia (2012), Philippines (2013), Senegal (2014) and most recently in Ethiopia (2015). The report of the 2015 Regional Conference will be published in 2016.
  • Promoting the implementation of the good practices contained in the Montreux Document at international, regional and domestic levels: DCAF supports the Montreux Document in the development of practical tools to support the implementation of more effective private security regulation. As one example of this priority, DCAF is currently developing a Legislative Guidance Tool for states to regulate PMSCs. The tool seeks to provide guidance for parliamentarians in the process of developing or updating national legislation related to PMSCs. The tool will further raise awareness of existing national legislation and best practices.
  • Supporting the Montreux Document Forum: The establishment of the MDF has signaled substantial political support for more regular dialogue among Montreux Document participants. As the official secretariat for the MDF, DCAF supports Switzerland and the ICRC in convening participants around key issues and in developing informative knowledge tools and performing outreach related to the MDF. Visit the bilingual website at www.mdforum.ch to learn more.

Recent activities

  • Ethiopia Regional Conference on PMSCs (2015): In collaboration with Switzerland, the ICRC, and the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University, DCAF hosted a regional conference on PMSCs and the Montreux Document in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As the second regional conference on the African continent, the event was attended by 16 states and aimed to initiate a dialogue on the challenges and good practices of regulating PMSCs. With over 80 participants, the Conference was also attended by high level representatives of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Commission, the AU Commission for Political Affairs, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations (UN), and the UN Office to the AU. In 2014, DCAF co-organised a regional conference for Francophone and Lusophone African states in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Publication on ‘Challenges and Recommendations’ for Montreux Document endorsing States (2015): DCAF conducted a major research study on Progress and Opportunities: Challenges and Recommendations for Montreux Document Participants which examines the national regulations of endorsing states, addresses progress, and identifies key gaps where the Montreux Document’s good practices could be better implemented. The publication is now also available in French.
  • Montreux+5 Conference (2013):  On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Montreux Document, the Swiss government, the ICRC and DCAF organised the Montreux+5 Conference. As a major international gathering, the Conference was attended by over 80 participants, representing governments, intergovernmental organisations, academics and civil society organisations. The Conference focused on implementation challenges, outreach, and the possibilities of institutionalising a regular dialogue to coordinate states’ efforts on the regulation of private military and security companies. Thanks to these discussions, participants agreed towards the development and launch of the Montreux Document Forum in 2014.

Key publications




If you are interested in endorsing the Montreux Document, would like share experience related to Montreux Document implementation and/or require specific advice on regulation of private security and military companies, please contact:

Anna-Marie Burdzy, Project Officer, Operations IV (Public-Private Partnerships)