Pan African Security Association (PASA) – Code of Principles and Code of Conduct

The Code of Principles refers to the obligations of companies at different stages of entering a contract as well as their obligations towards their personnel (e.g. labour rights).

The Code of Conduct refers to the obligations of security operators and other personnel (both employees and contractors) during an operation. The Code of Conduct is therefore primarily concerned with human rights and, where appropriate, international humanitarian law (IHL).

Both Codes are living documents and will be amended over time by the PASA membership. They will also be supplemented by more detailed country-specific guidelines (in accordance with existing regulation/legislation in that country).

Purpose of the Association and Benefits of Membership

The objective of PASA is to ensure that security and related contracts in Africa are solely discharged by legitimate companies complying with internationally accepted regulatory standards and the laws and regulations of African States. PASA also endeavours to represent members in cases where government lobbying is required.

Companies applying for membership have to undergo a thorough vetting process. Upon admission as members companies have to pledge to adhere to the PASA Code of Principles, Code of Conduct and any other rules and procedures governing the Association.

Terms and Definitions1

Private Security Company (PSC) – are private business entities that provide duly authorized (i.e. based on a legitimate contractual agreement according to the jurisdiction of the host country) security services. Security services include, in particular, armed guarding and protection of persons and objects, such as convoys, buildings and other places; maintenance and operation of weapons systems; logistical support; and advice to or training of local forces and security personnel.

Home State – are States of nationality of a PSC, i.e. where a PSC is registered or incorporated.

Territorial State – are States on whose territories PSCs operate (aka Host country).

Contracting State – are States that directly contract the services of PSCs, including sub-contracted PSCs

Member personnel – are persons directly employed by or under a contract with a member company.

Member company – is a formally registered company providing services as specified in the Membership criteria on the African continent and complying with the Membership Criteria.

1 The definitions are largely drawn from the Montreux Document, UN Doc A/63/467-S/2008/636


I. Code of Principles

1. Legal Obligations

Members must operate in accordance with
  • - the national law of their home state;
  • - the national law of the territorial state within which they operate;
  • - international law;
  • - appropriate voluntary codes and standards.

These include but are not limited to international humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), criminal law, tax law, immigration law, labour law, sanctions policies, procurement law, regulations on the export of arms, and any specific rules and regulations on private security services. Members shall also contract exclusively with established legal entities.

Local licensing rules for the import, acquisition, storage and use of weapons must be adhered to.

2. Governance

Members shall undertake to have good corporate governance and act according to the principles of good faith and integrity in their business dealings.

3. Compliance in Accepting Contracts

Members shall not accept contracts or act in such manner which might prejudice the security and stability of the host country or which might be viewed as such.

Members shall ensure that a comprehensive due diligence process takes place before they enter any contractual obligations. This is to prevent Members from unwittingly becoming involved in adverse, harmful or illegal operations.

4. Recruitment and Vetting/Screening

Members shall require any applicant to provide proof of a criminal record check or a police clearance certificate proving that the individual has not been found guilty of criminal offences.

Members shall require every applicant to provide proof of verifiable professional qualification.

Members shall ensure that existing and future personnel are legally allowed by their home state to carry out the tasks required to fulfil their contractual obligations.

5. Training

Members shall be in a position to provide evidence that their personnel are suitably trained to fulfil their contractual obligations.

Additional and ongoing operational and other training (internal and external) shall be performed by accredited trainers and organisations only.

Members shall provide training regarding
  • - the legal rights and obligations in the host country;
  • - any applicable international and human rights law;
  • - the rules for the use of force (RUF);
  • - cultural awareness

6. Health and Safety

Members shall be in a position to provide evidence that appropriate and sufficient health and safety measures for their personnel and the project as a whole are in place. Members' health and safety policies shall cover, amongst other things:

  • - protective equipment for personnel;
  • - medical assistance;
  • - drugs and alcohol policies;
  • - weapons and ammunitions management.

7. Human Resources Policies

Members shall develop and implement a general and host country specific HR policy covering, amongst other things:

  • - obligations towards personnel;
  • - disciplinary procedures;
  • - grievance procedures.

Members shall brief their personnel on contractual obligations and best practice regarding any potential moves from one employer to another.

8. Insurance Protection for Personnel, Third Parties and Assets

Members must be compliant with all relevant legal requirements regarding the maintenance of valid insurance. Their insurance policies must cover all aspects of their operations and potential liabilities. This includes appropriate insurance cover for personnel and consultants, including but not limited to medical evacuation and repatriation.

The insurance cover must be commensurate with the range of operational duties and must be reviewed on a regular basis. Members shall also assist personnel and consultants in enhancing any existing personal cover where necessary and in the event of a host country change or take out alternative insurance policies to ensure adequate cover.

9. Sub-Contracting

When choosing a sub-contractor Members shall conduct an appropriate due diligence process to ensure that the sub-contractor is in the position to deliver the tasks and fulfil all of the requirements agreed upon in the main contract.

10. Incidents and Accountability

Members must set up and implement internal procedures for dealing with lethal or non-lethal incidents whenever they constitute a breach of the law, inclusive of but not limited to those involving civilian casualties.

In the event such an incident a company must fully cooperate with and assist local (or in the case of an ongoing armed conflict: international) investigating authorities.

In the event of an incident a company shall ensure that a comprehensive de-briefing takes place and that records be kept and made available for potential investigations conducted by the host country, international authorities or PASA.

At the request of a Member, PASA may assist in the investigation of an incident to determine whether the company has followed due process.

11. Transparency

Members shall operate with transparency and, where appropriate, actively engage with international organisations (IOs), governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and private and public bodies with whom they share common concerns or interests. Members are encouraged to share and discuss any media enquiries with PASA to ensure conherent messaging.


II. Code of Conduct

As far as the conduct of Member personnel in a host country is concerned, the guiding principles are the host country's local laws, regulations customs.

Members must develop, implement and enforce guidelines regarding the Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) governing any tasks Member personnel are required to fulfil in the context of specific contracts. The RUF have to cover but are not limited to the following issues:

  • - the minimum use of force;
  • - measures to minimise loss of life and damage to property and other assets;
  • - the general rules of social conduct in host societies.

The Code of Conduct is a working document and will be further expanded over time with direct input by the Members of PASA.

III. Compliance and Implementation

This section will cover the mechanisms necessary to operationalise and enforce this Code.

The PASA Board will review any complaints about the conduct of a member company (including where there has been an alleged breach of the law) and issue recommendations. In the event of an investigation PASA will appoint an appropriate case officer to act on behalf of the Member with the purpose of resolving the matter.

IV. Review of PASA Rules and Regulations

PASA rules and regulations will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis.