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Press release, 22.06.2022

In 2021, the FDFA received 157 declarations from companies based in Switzerland that provided private security services abroad. This figure is derived from the sixth annual report on the implementation of the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA). Three review procedures were initiated. No activities were prohibited. 2021 was strongly influenced by the effects of the revised ordinance. As a result of the revision, the number of activities subject to the obligation to declare has decreased significantly. The Federal Council took note of the report at its meeting on 22 June 2022.

Companies based in Switzerland intending to provide private security services abroad must first declare the activity to the competent federal authority. This is a requirement under the PSSA. The unit in charge of implementing the PSSA is the Export Controls and Private Security Services Section (ECPS) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). In 2021, the ECPS received 157 declarations, falling mainly into three groups of activities: protection of persons and guarding or surveillance of goods and properties in complex environments, support to armed or security forces, and private intelligence.

In 2021, the ECPS initiated three review procedures. No prohibitions were issued. No private security services involving direct participation in hostilities or which could result in serious human rights violations were reported to the ECPS. Such activities are prohibited under Articles 8 and 9 of the PSSA.  

Effects of the revision of the ordinance
The revised Ordinance on Private Security Services provided Abroad (OPSA), which came into force on 1 January 2021, primarily affected services for armed or security forces, which decreased particularly significantly, with declarations in 2021 numbering only around one-tenth of those of the previous year. Many activities in this area no longer fell under the amended definitions of private security services or were covered by the exception to the obligation to declare in the revised ordinance.

Activities at the national and international levels
At the national level, the ECPS has continued its work of information and awareness-raising among companies that may be affected by the PSSA. A key event to this end was the fifth SECO seminar on export controls on 10 November 2021, which provided the ECPS with an opportunity to inform numerous companies about the amendments introduced by the revised OPSA.

At the international level, the ECPS took part in several meetings on the dialogue on standards for private security companies and on oversight mechanisms relating to their activities.

Market monitoring
An important task of the ECPS is to monitor the development of the private security services market at the national and international level. Advanced technologies are an important area in this regard – often provided and managed by private actors for states.

Another major focus of attention in 2021 was on private military and security companies (PMSCs) which operate in the context of armed conflict, the growing number of which can be traced to doctrines that favour non-traditional forms of intervention and the use of non-state actors. In 2021, the presence of the Russian Wagner group in sub-Saharan Africa regularly made the headlines. The FDFA is closely monitoring these developments. In the field of private security, as in other areas, Switzerland works to ensure compliance with international law.

2021 annual report on the implementation of the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad(pdf, 851kb)

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