Dóchas Code of Conduct

Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages

Bóthar is a signatory of the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages (“the Code”) and commits to applying the Code’s principles for all their communications.

A framework for communications

This Code of Conduct was developed by the members of Dóchas, the Irish association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations and adopted in 2007.

It supplies a framework for sound and fair communications across the NGO sector in Ireland and beyond. The Code is designed to support NGOs when communicating development issues and to assist with the day-to-day work of the variety of Irish organisations and their partners, working in long-term development, development education and humanitarian relief.

Implementation of the Code

Bóthar strives to support the Code’s implementation and to promote it across all members of staff, as well as partners, contractors and the wider NGO sector. By signing the Code, Bóthar commits to a set of principles, ensuring that we will avoid stereotypical or sensational images, respect the dignity and equality of all people portrayed and promote fairness, solidarity and justice through all our communications.

Bóthar also agrees a number of commitments to ensure the Code’s principles are implemented throughout all activities of our organisation.


The Code is an attempt by Irish NGOs to regulate themselves and to lead by positive example. It strives to encourage an accurate representation of development issues and the people with whom Irish NGOs work in many different countries and contexts, and to facilitate a critical engagement of the Irish public with development issues.


Below you can find a number of documents, websites and resources related to the Code of Conduct on Images and messages.


We would love to hear from you! Your comments and feedback on all of our communications (website, brochures, flyers, adverts etc.) are greatly appreciated because only you can tell us how we come across and how you feel about the people and issues we portray.

Please get in touch with us:

  • if you feel like some of the images or messages we use in our communications misrepresent the issues and people we strive to portray
  • if you feel like an image or artwork we use is breaking the Code's principles
  • if you're unhappy with the a particular picture, video, article etc.
  • if you have ideas on how to improve the existing coverage of a topic
  • if you like our communications materials
  • if there is a specific photo, article, brochure, ad etc. that you thought was particularly effective or stood out
  • if there is any other feedback you would like to share with us

Please send an email with your feedback and comments to Bóthar’s Code Champion Elaine Moynihan elainem@bothar.ie

Some guiding principles

Choices of images and messages will be made based on the paramount 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 vulnerable people.

Dóchas Feedback Mechanism

Dóchas has introduced a cross-sector feedback mechanism that is available to you. We very much welcome your feedback, will take it on board and will get back to you as soon as we can.

Should you, for whatever reason, not be satisfied with how we handle your comments and feedback or feel that the manner in which we have dealt with your complaint does not meet your expectations, you can raise the issue with Dóchas.

Please note that Dóchas is asking people only to make use of this facility once they have raised the issue with the organisation concerned (rather than sending complaints directly to Dóchas).

Please go to the Dóchas website to find out more about your options.

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