Governance & Security

Public or private security forces are not bound by rules of engagement or standard operating procedures


Businesses may be required to employ private security contractors to protect their workers where the government is not capable (due to resourcing or other constraints) of providing adequate police protection. In such circumstances, businesses must ensure that clear and rigorous operating procedures and terms of engagement are established by private security contractors prior to the conduct of any security operations. Employing private security contractors carries risks including that the private security force violates business’s operating procedures or rules of engagement. This may culminate in inappropriate use of force, violence against women and children and even abuses of international humanitarian law.


Where a private security contractor breaches its operating procedures or rules of engagement, the contracting business should have clear procedures to record and document any incidents. Businesses should ensure they establish a grievance mechanism for local communities or other affected parties to make complaints regarding the actions of contracted private security forces. This grievance mechanism should be clear, transparent and accessible and appropriately address cultural or religious sensitivities.


Where a private security contractor is found to have acted outside of the operating procedure or rules of engagement, the business should consider terminating the provider and engaging a new one – or other remedies, as appropriate.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Universal Declaration on Human Rights, 1948, Articles 1 and 3
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Article 6
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993, Articles 2 and 3
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, 2000
Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, 1990
Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, 1979

SDG 16


SDG 16.1

Ensuring operational procedures and rules of engagement are adhered to by public and private security contractors may contribute to achieving SDG 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

SDG 16.3
Ensuring adherence to effective operational procedures and rules of engagement by security guards also may promote SDG 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.