Mind the Gaps: Evaluating the International Regulatory Framework for Ensuring Human Rights Compliance by Private Military and Security Companies

Monday 3rd February 2020

LH127, Lord Hope Building

This invited guest seminar will be delivered by Dr Sorcha MacLeod (CEVIA, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen).


Increasing outsourcing of state security functions to private security actors coupled with the development of regulatory regimes that rely on private oversight, monitoring and enforcement pose a challenge to human rights. This paper examines the extent to which there are gaps in the existing international regulatory framework for Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC) and its implementation specifically relating to human rights violations against marginalised groups.

It comprises:

1. An assessment of: (a) the changing nature of the international security market; (b) the increasing

privatisation of international security functions and services; and (c) the linked role of business actors hiring PMSCs in the conflict and post-conflict cycle as well as related but non-conflict environments e.g. migration;

2. Identification and assessment of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups whose human rights may be impacted by the use of PSCs with a focus on women, children, LGBTI and migrants in conflict, post-conflict and non-conflict environments; and

3. A determination of the effectiveness of the international regulatory framework and its implementation with regard to ensuring respect for the human rights of vulnerable groups. The paper includes a gap analysis of relevant regulatory instruments to assess the extent to which they address adequately respect for human rights of the identified marginalised groups. Such instruments include: the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (and associated management standards PSC1 and ISO18788); the International Code of Conduct Association; the Montreux Document; the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

It concludes that the current regulatory regime does not fit current needs, in particular for safeguarding vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Bio: Dr Sorcha MacLeod

Dr Sorcha MacLeod is an internationally recognised expert on business, human rights and security. She is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen and a Guest Lecturer at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin. Previously she was a lecturer in law at the School of Law at the University of Sheffield, UK and a visiting professor at Free University Berlin. She holds a PhD from the University of Glasgow and an LLB (Hons) in Scots Law and an LLM in International Natural Resources Law from the University of Dundee. She has a particular research interest in the private military and security industry and she has published widely on this topic. In July 2018 she was appointed as an independent human rights expert to the United Nations Working Group on Mercenaries and is also an invited expert to the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on private military and security companies. She participated in the development of the Montreux Document regulatory process on private military and security companies, as well as the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers and its International Code of Conduct Association at which she has Observer Status. She also helped draft international management standards for private security operations and advises civil society organisations, governments and industry on business, human rights and security issues.