Private security companies

What is the issue?

The monopoly on the use of force is one of the core elements of the modern state. Privatising security functions impacts on the principles by which a state is run, or at least how it exercises its authority. For national and democratic policy reasons privatisation can thus be considered only for peripheral areas. Although less far-reaching than privatisation, the delegation of state security functions to the private sector is also tightly restricted, because the tasks that are being delegated remain the responsibility of the state. Based on its report on private security and military companies, the Federal Council decided to take action on the following specific points:

  • to examine whether or not the general conditions that private security companies must fulfil to be awarded a contract from the Swiss Confederation should be specified;
  • to examine whether providers of military or security services which operate in areas of crisis or conflict from a base in Switzerland should be subject to authorisation requirements or a licensing system;
  • to initiate an international process contributing to an intergovernmental dialogue to strengthen and concretise the obligations that governments and other bodies must fulfil under international humanitarian law, and to promote the study of models of regulation at the national, regional and international levels.

What has happened so far?

  • On 5 December 2005, the Federal Council adopts the report on private security and military companies (media release).
  • On 31 October 2007, the Federal Council adopts the ordinance on the assignment of federal government tasks to private security companies (media release).
  • On 21 may 2008, the Federal Council decides that Swiss-based private military and security service providers operating in foreign crisis and conflict region will not be subject to registration or licensing requirements for the time being (media release).
  • On 23 January 2013, the Federal Council issues its message on the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad (media release).
  • Parlamentarische Beratungen (13.017)
    (This document is not available in English)
  • The Federal Council enacts the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad and its accompanying ordinances with effect from 1 September 2015 (media release). (This document is not available in English)


Report of the Federal Council


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.



Press releases

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Last modification 24.06.2015

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