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Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, was developed and agreed upon by eight of the world's largest disaster response agencies in the summer of 1994.

The Code of Conduct, like most professional codes, is a voluntary one. It lays down ten points of principle which all humanitarian actors should adhere to in their disaster response work, and goes on to describe the relationships that agencies working in disasters should seek with donor governments, host governments and the UN system.

The code is self-policing. There is as yet no international association for disaster-response NGOs which possesses any authority to sanction its members. The Code of Conduct continues to be used by the International Federation to monitor its own standards of relief delivery and to encourage other agencies to set similar standards.

It is hoped that humanitarian actors around the world will commit themselves publicly to the code by becoming a signatory and by abiding by its principles. Governments and donor organizations may want to use the code as a yardstick against which to measure the conduct of those agencies with which they work. Disaster-affected communities have a right to expect that those who assist them measure up to these standards.

Principles of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes

  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 advertizing activities, we shall recognize disaster victims as dignified human beings, not hopeless objects.

Please note that the French and Spanish versions have been translated by the International Federation. Other languages versions are available that have been translated by third parties.