Code of conduct on images and messages

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Code of conduct on images and messages

This Code of Conduct on Images and Messages has been written by charities working in the areas of emergency relief, long term development and development education.

A framework

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to provide a framework on which organisations can build when designing and implementing their public communications strategy. The Code offers a set of guiding principles that can assist practitioners in their efforts to communicate their organisation’s programmes and values in a coherent and balanced way.

Challenges and difficulties

Signatories to this Code are acutely aware of the many challenges and difficulties entailed in conveying the scandal and injustice of poverty while striving to meet the ideals of the Code.

It is a reality of our world today that many of the images of extreme poverty and humanitarian distress are negative and cannot be ignored.

Sensitivity and dignity

To ignore them would run counter to the spirit of this Code which is to portray the reality of the lives of people with sensitivity and respect for their dignity.

Images and messages should seek to represent a complete picture of both internal and external assistance and the partnership that often results between local and international NGOs.

The values of human dignity, respect and truthfulness as outlined in the Code, must underlie all communications.

Committed to principles

The signatories to this Code are committed to these principles, and will translate them into internal policies and procedures.

They are also committed to working constructively with others whose work involves communicating on issues of global poverty, to explore ways of reflecting these principles in other fields of communications.

Charity work

By signing and promoting this Code, NGOs will continue to keep the development agenda very much in the public eye and to look beyond the sound bite or single image to reflect the values espoused in this Code.

  • Click here to view full Code of Conduct in pdf format (546KB)
  • For a guide to understanding and implementing the Code of Conduct on Images and Messages in pdf format (2MB), click here
  • Click here to view the illustrative guide to the Dochas Code of Conduct


You can contact us to give feedback on our use of any images or messages by emailing us at [email protected]. We undertake to reply to all emails within two working days.