The World Economic Forum does not have its own paramilitary force

30 May 2022
What was claimed

The World Economic Forum has its own paramilitary force armed with military grade weapons.

Our verdict

The WEF does not have its own paramilitary force. Members of the local police force wear badges awarded each year to mark their participation in the event.

An Instagram post which claims the World Economic Forum (WEF) has its own paramilitary force armed with military-grade weapons is not correct. 

The post features a photograph of a man in uniform with two patches on his upper left sleeve. The lower patch depicts two ibex, along with the wording “World Economic Forum Police” and “2022”. 

The caption accompanying the post states: “The World Economic Forum has it’s [sic] own paramilitary force complete with @wef BADGES and armed with military-grade weapons. They are harassing and detaining journalists at-will [sic]. By what authority do they operate? Who do [sic] commands them? Do Swiss authorities have any say?"

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How is the WEF meeting in Davos policed?

The most recent annual meeting of the WEF—an international, non-governmental lobbying organisation that says it is “committed to improving the state of the world”—took place in Davos, Switzerland, between 22 and 26 May. 

According to the Swiss government, responsibility for the safety and security of the local population and international visitors during the event falls under the auspices of the Graubünden police who operate in the canton—a subdivision of the country—where Davos is located. The police were also supported by up to 5,000 members of the armed forces, according to Switzerland’s Federal Assembly.

Closer examination of the photograph in the Instagram post also shows that the upper patch on the arm of the officer is that of the Graubünden police. This is one of a number of patches worn by members of the force. 

A spokesperson for the police in the Graubünden canton told Reuters that the use of such badges “serves the team spirit for use around the annual meeting”, and added: “The WEF organisation does not have a police force”.

It is clear from the photograph that neither of the badges are permanently attached to the officer’s uniform, but rather affixed to a strip of velcro. 

Such patches are made available to those officers from Graubünden who undertake duties in Davos during the WEF. Though the basic design remains the same, the colours used for the WEF police patch are changed each year. Examples from previous years can be found here.

The patches are considered to be collector’s items by some and are offered for sale online, such as this 2009 example

The Instagram post also suggests members of the media have been harassed and detained during the event. This may relate to an incident involving American journalist Jack Posobiec, who released a video on Twitter of members of his team interacting with local police officers, entitled “detained at Davos”. However, the police told the fact checking organisation PolitiFact that at no point was Mr Posobiec detained or arrested.

Full Fact has checked numerous false claims about the WEF in the past.

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