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Third meeting on the Swiss initiative on private military and security companies Print

The third meeting of government experts in the context of Switzerland’s initiative on private military and security companies in conflict zones, which was held in Montreux, Switzerland, ended today. Paul Seger, the legal counsellor of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, expressed his satisfaction, saying “We have made major progress. As a result of these extremely constructive discussions we hope to be able to agree till the end of the year on a document that will reaffirm the obligations of international law and recommend effective measures on their practical implementation.”

The initiative, which was launched more than two years ago in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), seeks to promote compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights by private security and military companies. It aims to ensure that states strengthen controls over such companies through suitable laws and measures, and as a result contribute to the protection of civilian populations in conflict zones. Representatives of 18 states took part in the meeting, including those from Afghanistan, China, France, the United Kingdom, Iraq, the Russian Federation, South Africa and the United States.

The main subjects of discussion were international legal obligations and their implementation by those states most concerned, i.e. those that engage private security and military companies, those on whose territory they are active, and those where they are based. The ICRC Director of International Law, Philip Spoerri declared: "The participants agreed that, contrary to commonly held assumptions, private military and security companies do not operate in a legal vacuum; rather, that states as well as the companies themselves and their personnel are subject to clear international legal obligations".
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