Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief

The Code of Conduct seeks to guard our standards of behaviour so that we can maintain the highest standards of independence, effectiveness and impact. It was prepared jointly by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

What is the Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief is a voluntary code designed to help signatories deliver principled and effective humanitarian action.

It sets out ten core principles as well as three annexes with recommendations to governments of affected states, donor governments and intergovernmental organizations. Over the years, adherence to the Code has become one important way for the Red Cross and Red Crescent and NGOs to define themselves as humanitarians.

Since the development of the Code, there have been many developments in terms of standards and mechanisms to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian response. However, the Code remains a central reference in the sector.

Scroll down to learn more about the Code of Conduct and sign up your organization. You can view the public list of signatories to the Code of Conduct here.

Core principles

  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
  3. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone
  4. Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint. 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 to 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

How did it come about?

In 1991, the Council of Delegates of our Movement called on the IFRC “to set up a group of experts to study the possibility of elaborating a Code of Conduct relative to humanitarian aid in situations of natural and technological disasters.”

The IFRC then collaborated with the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), a network of major international non-governmental organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to develop the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief in 1994.

The Code was “welcomed” by a resolution of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (which includes all state parties to the Geneva Conventions as well as the components of the Movement) the following year.