PRIVATE MILITARY AND SECURITY COMPANIES
(PMSCs): RESPONSE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched
a Public Consultation on our proposals to promote high standards
of the Private Military and Security Company (PMSC) industry internationally
on 24 April 2009. The objective of the policy is to promote high
standards of conduct by PMSCs internationally, and to reduce the
risk that the activities of PMSCs might give rise to human rights
or humanitarian law concerns, assist internal repression, or provoke
or prolong internal or regional tension.
The FCO ran a public consultation, which closed
on 17 July, on our preferred option, which consists of a three-part
working with the UK industry to promote
high standards through a code of conduct agreed with and monitored
by the Government;
using our status as a buyer to contract
only those companies that demonstrate that they operate to high
an international approach to promote
higher global standards based on key elements of the UK's approach.
We are now considering the received responses
and will publish a summary of those responses within three months
of the close of the consultation.
We welcomed and considered the specific recommendations
made by James Cockayne to the JCHR:
Recommendation 1: The Joint Committee on Human
Rights should invite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to share
its views on the compatibility of Her Majesty's Government's proposed
policy on the regulation of private military and security companies
with the `Protect, Respect, Remedy' policy framework.
Recommendation 2: The Joint Committee on Human
Rights should encourage the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to
explore how the `Protect, Respect, Remedy' policy framework could
be integrated into its work on private military and security companies
from now on.
Recommendation 4: The Joint Committee on Human
Rights should encourage Her Majesty's Government to incorporate
the Ruggie policy framework into its efforts to promote an international
regulatory framework for private military and security companies.
The UN Human Rights Council was unanimous in
welcoming the policy framework for business and human rights proposed
by Professor John Ruggie in his final report under the 2005 mandate.
The Human Rights Council extended Prof. Ruggie's mandate in 2008
asking him to "operationalise" the framework in order
to provide concrete guidance to States and businesses. We welcome
Professor John Ruggie's framework and consider that it is broadly
compatible with our own approach on PMSCs. We are considering
how far the "Protect, Respect and Remedy"' framework
is compatible with the preferred option to improve standards in
the PMSC industry in detail. Though we believe that the state
does not have a general duty to protect against abuse by non-state
actors, as they do not have human rights obligations, we consider
that the Respect tenet of Prof. Ruggie's framework may help to
encourage responsible corporate citizenship. We are also considering
how possible grievance mechanisms, incorporated into a Code of
Conduct/International Standard, may contribute to the Remedy tenet
of Prof. Ruggie's framework.
We are currently taking forward an international
initiative, in conjunction with other key partners such as the
Swiss, the US, Norway and the Extractive Industry, to uphold high
standards of the industry through a code of conduct, building
on the Montreux process, together with an accountability mechanism/grievance
mechanism. Once an international code of conduct is agreed we
will encourage a wide range of PMSC exporting and contracting
states and the main industries employing PMSCs to sign up to it.
We will look at whether Prof. John Ruggie's framework might be
introduced into discussions on creating and enforcing these international
Recommendation 3: The Joint Committee on Human
Rights should encourage Her Majesty's Government to clarify how
any system for the regulation of UK-based PMSCs will allow for
effective investigation and prosecution of apparent criminal conduct,
either in the UK or elsewhere.
There is already legislation penalising grave
breaches of the Geneva Conventions, as well as torture, genocide,
war crimes and crimes against humanity. This applies to acts committed
by United Kingdom nationals overseas, ensuring that they can be
prosecuted for these acts even if they take place overseas. We
are also able to prosecute British citizens for murder with extra
Recommendation 5: The Joint Committee on Human
Rights should seek clarification by Her Majesty's Government of
how any `Code of Conduct' for UK-based private military and security
companies will ensure they discharge their responsibility to respect
human rights, in particular by requiring a process of ongoing
human rights due diligence.
We will work with the relevant Trade Association
to agree a code of conduct to which all members must adhere. Our
aim is for the framework to cover ongoing compliance in accepting
contracts, incidents and accountability, resource management and
responsible behaviour and promote respect for International Humanitarian
Law (IHL) and Human Rights Law (HRL).
Recommendation 6: The Joint Committee should
invite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to clarify how an industry-run
Grievance Mechanism for the private military and security industry
will ensure respect for the principles of legitimacy, accessibility,
predictability, equity, rights-compatibility, transparency and
independence outlined in the Ruggie policy framework.
The Government is currently consulting on its
preferred option to uphold high standards of the PMSC industry
globally. We are engaged in an initiative to write an international
code of conduct and are considering how an effective accountability
mechanism will enforce those standards. As part of that process,
we are also considering how a grievance process will improve that
accountability mechanism. We will look to frame a detailed policy
proposal after the close of the consultation and will then be
able to provide a comprehensive answer. When we consider the details
of this mechanism, we will explore how Professor John Ruggie's
principlesas outlinedcan be incorporated.
21 August 2009