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Private security services

Private security services have expanded significantly to meet a growing need and have been attracting a great deal of media and public attention over a number of years. Growing awareness of the risks posed by these types of services have prompted policymakers to debate the issue and take initiatives to regulate this sector more effectively.

Back of a security guard with the lettering "Security".
Underlying the discussions for better regulation of private security services is an awareness of the risks associated with providing these types of services. (© Unsplash)

Activities carried out by private security service providers within Swiss borders are regulated at cantonal level or under inter-cantonal agreements. In 1996, the French-speaking cantons adopted the Concordat sur les entreprises de sécurité (CES) – a collective agreement on private security services. In 2017, an initiative to draw up a similar agreement for the German-speaking cantons (Konkordat über private Sicherheitsdienstleistungen, KÜPS) failed when several cantons declined to take part and adopted their own regulations. Discussions in the Federal parliament on the establishment of a national regulation on private security services provided on Swiss territory have not been successful either.

Concordat du 18 octobre 1996 sur les entreprises de sécurité (CES) (agreement on private security service providers dated 18 October 1996)
Konkordat über private Sicherheitsdienstleistungen (KÜPS) (agreement on private security services)

Based on an analysis of the Swiss private security market, the Federal Council decided in 2010 to enact federal legislation governing private security services provided abroad by Swiss-based companies. The Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA) was adopted by the Federal Assembly on 27 September 2013 and entered into force on 1 September 2015. The Federal Council determined that the State Secretariat of the FDFA should be the competent authority. The Export Controls and Private Security Services Section (ECPS) within the FDFA is operationally responsible for implementing the PSSA. It formulates policy on private security services abroad and liaises with the cantonal and inter-cantonal authorities responsible for this issue. It is also responsible to ensure communication with the industry and to provide information to the general public.
Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad

At the international level, Switzerland has sponsored and played a key role in developing two initiatives intended to promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law by private military and security companies. These initiatives are the Montreux Document of 17 September 2008 and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers dated 9 November 2010. Since September 2011, Switzerland has also been a participant in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. The ECPS participates in the international dialogue on domestic standards for private military and security companies. These discussions are held in various international organizations (UN, OSCE, etc.).
Montreux Document
International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

Last update 01.06.2022

Contact

International Security Division

Export Controls and Private Security Services Section

Effingerstrasse 27
3003 Bern

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Phone

+41 (0)58 46 469 88

Fax

+41 (0)58 464 38 39