Code of Conduct

Most aid, relief and development agencies have a code of conduct which their employees and volunteers agree to upon signing on with the agency. Don't just read your code of conduct before you sign a contract; revisit the code, and reflect on its recommendations and requirements -- and the thinking behind such. Are you abiding by the code? Why or why not? Do you feel pressured by co-workers to violate your agency's code? Have you talked to your supervisor or others at the agency about the code and how it is, or is not, followed in practice?


Red Cross / Crescent / NGOs Code of Conduct

The full title of this document is The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. It is normally known simply as "The Code of Conduct".

Almost all international and many national relief NGOs have signed it, as well as the whole Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is available at:

Unlike some other codes or standards, this one is often used in practice and is taken very seriously by any responsible NGO.

Its principal commitments are:

  1. The Humanitarian imperative comes first.

  2. Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone.

  3. Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.

  4. We shall endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy.

  5. We shall respect culture and custom.

  6. We shall attempt to build disaster response on local capacities.

  7. Ways shall be found to involve programme beneficiaries in the management of relief aid.

  8. Relief aid must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs.

  9. We hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources.

  10. In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we shall recognise disaster victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless objects.

Also see The Social Responsibility of Health Workers by AWN member Marcelo Murillo. You may also want to read Engineering in Emergencies: A Practical Guide for Relief Workers. The book is not limited to engineering needs; in fact, it has a great deal of information about the standards for quality and conduct for aid, relief and development workers. It is available for order from your favorite bookstore, including


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