Resource Title

Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages


The Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages, produced in Ireland, offers a set of guiding principles that can assist organisations in their decision-making about which images and messages to choose in their communication while maintaining full respect for human dignity.

More than 70 charities, community groups and NGOs have signed up to the code.

Resource Details

  • Author: Dóchas
  • Publisher: Dóchas
  • Country of Publication: Ireland
  • Year: 2007
  • Page Count: 4


By signing the Code, Development NGOs (non governmental organisations) commit to a set of principles, ensuring that they will avoid stereotypical or sensational images. Adoption of the Code means that NGOs will choose images and messages that represent the full complexity of the situations in which they work, and that they will seek the permission of the people portrayed in the photos they use.

The code provides 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.

Big Ideas in this Resource

Guiding Principles of the Code
Choices of images and messages will be made based on the principles of:

  • Respect for the dignity of the people concerned;
  • Belief in the equality of all people;
  • Acceptance of the need to promote fairness, solidarity and justice.

Accordingly, in all our communications and where practical and reasonable within the need to reflect reality, we strive to:

  • Choose images and related messages based on values of respect equality, solidarity and justice;
  • Truthfully represent any image or depicted situation both in its immediate and in its wider context so as to improve public understanding of the realities and complexities of development;
  • Avoid images and messages that potentially stereotype, sensationalise or discriminate against people, situations or places;
  • Use images, messages and case studies with the full understanding, participation and permission of the subjects (or subjects’ parents/guardian);
  • Ensure those whose situation is being represented have the opportunity to communicate their stories themselves;
  • Establish and record whether the subjects wish to be named or identifiable and always act accordingly;
  • Conform to the highest standards in relation to human rights and protection of the vulnerable people.

Available from:

Download Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages PDF

Download the Poster of the Code of Conduct PDF for free for your organisation/school

Download the Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages PDF (650KB)

View the annotation or download the Illustrated Guide to the Code (2014)

Visit the website of Dóchas, the Irish Assocation of Non-Governmental Development Organisations: