Skip to main content



Third Edition, Available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese

Click on the tabs below to access the language versions

A compendium of concrete good practices to security and human rights challenges aimed at companies, security providers, civil society, national regulators and other practitioners


3.6. Training

a) Private security personnel may lack adequate training and not be familiar with international standards on human rights and international humanitarian law and how they apply to their day-to-day security duties.


Good Practices*

Conduct a training needs analysis at the time of contract negotiations with the PSP

Agree on a training programme with the PSP based on the results of the needs analysis, including who will deliver what part of the training (i.e. the company, the PSP or a third party)

  • Ensure pre-deployment training is provided to all private security personnel working on the company’s premises.
  • Include as a minimum the following topics:
    1. Human rights, international humanitarian law (in countries affected or threatened by armed conflict), and national criminal law.
    2. Religious, gender, and cultural issues, and respect for the local population.
    3. Rules for the use of force and firearms, including self-defence and de-escalation techniques. Refer participants to the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers and “national laws or regulations in effect in the area duties will be performed.” (ICoC: par. 59) Use of force training shall include weapon-specific training for all personnel who are to carry a weapon.
    4. Procedures for apprehending persons “to defend themselves or others against an imminent threat of violence, or following an attack or crime committed by such persons against Company Personnel, or against clients or property under their protection.” (ICoC: par. 33)  All apprehended persons should be treated “humanely and consistent with their status and protections under applicable human rights law or international humanitarian law.” (ICoC: par. 34)
    5. Site safety training.
    6. Incident response and first aid, to “ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment.”[11]
    7. PSPs’ duties and responsibilities with regard to conflict management and dealing with incidents of public disorder, (un)lawful protests, strikes, labour disputes and evictions, ensuring this does not conflict with the mandate of public security forces.
    8. Anti-bribery and anti-corruption measures.
    9. Grievance procedures and policies and “handling (of) complaints by the civilian population, in particular by transmitting them to the appropriate authority.” (MD Part 2: par. 10)
  • Require that all private security personnel deployed on the company’s site pass an oral or written exam and a physical test after the training proving they are capable of performing the required security services.
  • Conduct refresher courses (e.g. quarterly or bi-annually) for all private security personnel on site, including a few new topics on each refresher training.
  • Ensure the training is updated regularly to reflect changed circumstances on the ground and based on ongoing risk assessment and due diligence activities.
  • Include the details and conditions regarding the training programme in the contract with the PSP.

Ensure that participants can relate to the training programme

  • Ensure the training is adapted to the background, literacy level and languages of participants.
  • Conduct practical exercises that include locally-relevant scenarios and possible contingencies. One method is to “use the ‘talk-through, walk-through, run-through’ formula”: communicate all tasks and expectations to participants; discuss each step; and run-through the whole scenario with role-players. “Training events are most effective if the scenario for the simulated incident is plausible or even a repeat of a previous incident.” (MIGA: III-9)
  • Encourage the organisation of joint drills and rehearsals for incident management (having previously assessed all potential risks), involving public security forces, private security providers and in-house security. In general terms, these exercises “should address the phases of an incident response including:
    • Preparation and review of rules (for the use of force),
    • Alert,
    • Deployment,
    • Designation of the on-site team leader,
    • Actions on contact,
    • Resolution of the incident,
    • Provision of medical attention (and evacuation) if required,
    • Review of post-incident lessons learned,
    • Final reporting and follow-up.” (MIGA: III-9)
  • Lessons identified from these drills and rehearsals should be iteratively inserted to the relevant procedures, processes and standing orders.

Complement the training with additional measures such as by providing:

  • Induction training to familiarise private security personnel with the company, in particular with its structure, policies, processes (e.g. handling of complaints and lines of reporting) and the project site; with the country law regarding provision of private security services; and with community and local government relations.
  • Job-specific training, focused on any “significant hazards, threats, risks, and potential impacts associated with their work.” (PSC.1: 21)
  • Short talks focused on key aspects of the VPs and the code of conduct for PSPs delivered regularly by supervisors.
  • Supporting materials (e.g. pocket book/laminated card with principles on the use of force).

Monitor performance and, if necessary, provide additional training

  • Conduct regular monitoring to verify whether the learnings from the training are put into practice. As part of this exercise, consult with local communities to find out whether the situation has improved as a consequence of training.
  • Identify any remaining gaps and ensure these are addressed in refresher trainings.
  • If necessary, conduct additional training to address any further training needs.                                                                                                                                             

Work with other companies to invest in training on human rights and humanitarian law (in countries affected by armed conflict) for local PSPs (IGTs: 57)

b) Non-local PSPs may be unaware of or lack training in the culture, traditions and values of the local community. This may result in security practices that could be considered culturally inappropriate or disrespectful, leading to increased risk of conflict.


Good Practices*

Analyse the local context, paying particular attention to:

  • Different cultures and ways of life within the national population (e.g. livelihoods, language, customs) and related sub-groups within a community, including the potential for conflict between such groups.
  • “Traditional lifestyles, a close attachment to ancestral territories and the natural resources found in them”[12].
  • Environmental and natural resource management strategies[13].
  • Intangible cultural heritage, such as language, ceremonies, spirituality[14].
  • Structure and operation of the local economy[15].
  • Governance and decision making structures and implications for vulnerable or marginalised groups (e.g. women and indigenous peoples).
  • Power structures and the politics within communities and society as a whole.
  • Social structures, in particular the different roles of women and men within the social and cultural context, including the division of labour and the different rights and obligations within the household and the broader community[16].
  • “Different value systems, which may include approaches to negotiation and reaching agreement that are quite different to those in mainstream society”[17].
  • “Cultural protocols, including traditional ways of dealing with grievances and conflict”[18].
  • Ensure the company’s human rights policy addresses relations with local communities
  • Consult with communities, including any inter-communal sub-groups and particularly vulnerable groups (e.g. women, youth).
  • “Account for differing community perceptions of and cultural sensitivities surrounding the industry or business mission, specific project, gender, orientation, weapons, religion, foreigners, other clans, etc.” (IGTs: 50)
  • Establish, implement, and maintain procedures to ensure all persons performing tasks on behalf of the company are aware of “the culture, such as customs and religion, of the environment in which they are operating”. (PSC.1: 21)
  • Require that employees and PSPs “work without prejudice or bias, regardless of the nationality, sex, religion or culture of individuals. In complying with this requirement, employees are not expected to express personal or political views, or behave in an overtly nationalistic manner. Employees are to exercise restraint in the expression of views both in private and public and are to adopt as low a profile as allowed by their work.” (SCC: 2-3)

Develop guidelines for effective engagement between the company’s security personnel, the PSP and local communities

  • Ensure the company’s security and community relations departments collaborate in developing these guidelines.
  • Clarify roles of the company’s security department, in-house security and PSPs in engaging with local communities.
  • “Strive for consistency of approach and employment longevity of representatives of the company so that relationships can be built and trust maintained”[19].
  • Consider the help of local experts for the development of culturally appropriate guidelines and procedures.
  • Seek solutions developed with local communities. 

Consider local experience and references from other clients working in the area as part of the award criteria in the selection of a PSP (See Challenge 3.2.a.)

  • Ensure the selected PSP has locally appropriate policies and procedures.

Establish security arrangements taking into account findings from the context analysis and the risk and impact assessments (See Challenge 3.1.a.)

  • Ensure the presence of female and male staff, since “particularly in traditional indigenous communities, men will generally be more comfortable engaging with male representatives of a company, and women with female representatives”[20].
  • Ensure security arrangements (e.g. selection of personnel) do not inadvertently foster tensions through favouring one religion/ethnic group over others.

Agree on a training programme with the PSP (See Challenge 3.6.a.)

  • Ensure that private security personnel are aware and trained in aspects regarding the culture, traditions and values of the local community.
  • Provide “practical advice that can enhance cross-cultural communication and understanding (e.g. advice on body language, initiating and ending conversations, culturally disrespectful actions, etc.)”[21].
  • Involve local community representatives in the delivery and teaching of the programme and sharing their experiences.

Set regular meetings with local communities

  • Consider political, cultural and legal sensitivities, when choosing a method of communication and the venue for meetings with local stakeholders.
  • Clearly communicate the company’s values and commitments to local stakeholders.
  • Be as open as possible sharing information on security arrangements.
  • Begin early, ideally start dialogue before any security personnel are deployed on site.
  • Listen with an open mind to communities’ security concerns and be willing to reconsider security arrangements accordingly.
  • Work together with local communities to address concerns, risks and impacts.
  • Consider establishing a multi-stakeholder security forum or draw on existing community security platforms.
  • If appropriate, invite other relevant stakeholders, such as local authorities or public security.

Establish grievance mechanisms that are respectful of customary approaches to dispute resolution[22]

  • If a community has an existing dispute resolution mechanism, consider how/if the company’s programme can align with and/or complement that process.
  • Consider whether it is necessary to conduct outreach and/or capacity building to empower communities to access and effectively use the grievance mechanism.