The Montreux Document

The Montreux Document is the first international document to reaffirm the international legal obligations of States regarding the activities of private military and security companies. It also contains a series of best practices designed to help States take appropriate measures to comply with their obligations under international law.

What's it about?

The Montreux Document is a reflection of the consensus that international law is also applicable to private military and security companies and that they do not operate in a legal vacuum.  It is a practical and realistic contribution to promoting compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights. The document contains answers to legal questions raised by the use of private military and security companies without creating new obligations. It is not legally binding as such.


The first part of the Montreux Document distinguishes between Contracting States, Territorial States and Home States. It gives an overview of the pertinent international obligations arising from international humanitarian law and human rights law for each group. It also addresses a Contracting State's liability under customary international law for the conduct of private individuals. In this section, the pertinent international legal obligations of private military and security companies and their employees, as well as the responsibility of their superiors line management, are also set out.

The second part of the Montreux Document highlights best practices for the regulation of private military and security companies, such as introducing transparent regulations, licensing, and measures to improve supervision and liability. The aim of this section is to, inter alia, support States in implementing their obligations under international humanitarian law.


The Montreux Document is the result of an initiative launched by Switzerland and the ICRC in early 2006. A first draft of the Montreux Document was prepared during four intergovernmental meetings that took place between January 2006 and September 2008. The final document was adopted by consensus of the participating states at the fourth and last meeting, which took place in Montreux from 15 to 17 September 2008.

In December 2014, the Montreux Document Forum was created as a venue platform for informal consultation exchange between the participants of the Montreux Document. The forum's objective is to help implement the Montreux Document at the national level and to encourage other States and international organisations to support it.


Last update 09.05.2022


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