5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights

5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect

5.7.2 Operational Principles: legislative and information policy measures

Guiding Principle 3 [page 15-19]

PI2 Regulation of Private Security Providers 

The business context of private security service providers exposes them to an increased risk of becoming involved in human rights abuses. In September 2013, Parliament thus passed the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad. (…) The Act prohibits security firms based in Switzerland from participating directly in hostilities in an armed conflict abroad, and forbids activities that support the commission of serious violations of human rights. It also contains reporting requirements for companies wishing to provide private security services abroad, and obliges Swiss-based providers to accede to the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.

The Federal Council regards the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided abroad as an appropriate means of ensuring respect for human rights in connection with the activities of private security service providers.

PI11 Multi-stakeholder initiatives in the Business And Human Rights Field [page 19]

Switzerland is engaged and involved in multi-stakeholder initiatives in the business and human rights field. For example, it was a co-initiator of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC). It is also playing a key role in the development of an independent mechanism to manage and verify compliance with the Code on the part of business enterprises.

In the next two years, the controlling and governance mechanism for the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoCA) will implement certification and verification processes and will deal with complaints that have been received about member firms. Switzerland participates in the work of the Board of Directors of the ICoCA, and provides financial support to its secretariat. The initiative helps to implement the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad.

Switzerland is also a member of the ‘Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights’ (VP) initiative, and is involved in developing and enhancing the scheme. Within the framework of the VP, it promotes better and more transparent accountability for participants, and also contributed to the revision of reporting criteria. To raise awareness among Swiss companies from the mining and oil sector, as well as other interested business enterprises, Switzerland will be holding a workshop on the VP and on security and human rights in 2017.

Guiding Principle 5 [page 24]

PI20 Human Rights Due Diligence for Private Security Service Providers

The federal government uses a variety of services from private security service providers –for example to guard Swiss representations abroad. It is therefore obliged to check whether or not the firms that it engages fulfil their human rights responsibilities.

Article 31 para. 1 b of the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad states that, in a complex environment, the federal authorities may consider only those firms which are members of the ICoCA. Since the ICoCA requires that firms abide by human rights standards, this is equivalent to demanding due diligence.

As a general rule, the federal government does not engage any security firms that are not members of the ICoCA to work in complex environments. It advocates that security firms should join the ICoCA, especially in regions in which there are still few, if any, member companies.

5.8 Pillar 3: access to remedy

5.8.4 Operational principles: non-state grievance mechanisms

Guiding Principle 30 [page 40]

PI50 Grievance mechanism under the International Code of Conduct (ICoC) and the other multi-stakeholder initiatives

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers stipulates an innovative grievance mechanism by which to punish violations by business enterprises. Claims may be made by employees or by third parties106. Similar contact points for affected parties are under discussion in other multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Switzerland provided significant content and financial support for the introduction of the ICoC grievance mechanism. It also makes a substantial financial contribution to the International Code of Conduct Association, which is responsible for implementing the grievance mechanism.

Switzerland will continue to offer political and financial support for the implementation of the ICoC, and thus also its grievance mechanism. Furthermore, through its membership of other multi-stakeholder initiatives it will promote the introduction of further such mechanisms.