Dóchas Guide to Ethical Communications

A framework for communications

The Guide to Ethical Communications was launched in 2023 as an update to the previous Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages, originally published in 2006. The new Guide is a resource for international humanitarian and development organisations (NGOs) seeking to implement best practice in ethical communications. It outlines key considerations and good practice for those working with imagery and messages to use when designing and implementing their communications, fundraising and public engagement materials.


To view or download a copy of the Dóchas Guide to Ethical Communications, click here.


Implementation of the Guide to Ethical Communications

Misean Cara is a signatory to the Dóchas Guide to Ethical Communications and as such we aim to ensure that all of our communications uphold the commitments sets forth by the Guide.

Misean Cara strives to uphold the framework supplied by the Guide to Ethical Communications and promote it across all members of staff, as well as partners, contractors and the wider NGO sector.

Misean Cara adheres to the Four Commitments set forth in the Guide to Ethical Communications, ensuring that we will avoid stereotypical or sensational images, respect the dignity, privacy and equality of all people portrayed and promote fairness, solidarity and justice through all our communications. Misean Cara commits to ensuring that these principles are implemented throughout all activities of our organisation.


Feel free to contact us! Your comments and feedback on all of our communications (website, brochures, flyers, 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.

Contact us

  • If you feel that some of the images or messages we use in our communications misrepresent the issues and people we strive to portray.
  • If you feel that an image or artwork we use do not adhere to the commitments in the Guide.
  • If you’re unhappy with a particular picture, video, article etc…
  • If you have any 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, 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 communications@miseancara.ie.

Some Guiding Principles

Misean Cara chooses images and messages 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.

We want our communications to reflect the true reality of issues, and we try 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.

Misean Cara adheres to the Guide by seeking verbal and written permission from individuals in photos/stories to ensure that everyone is comfortable with their image/story being used and where and how it will be used. In our communications, we document the following information in the photo and/or story we use:

  • Name and title of the individual(s);
  • Project name;
  • Brief project description;
  • Member organisation name; and
  • Name of person/organisation credited with taking the photo.

Dóchas Feedback Mechanism

Dóchas has introduced a cross-sector feedback mechanism that is available to you.

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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