Images & Messages

Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images & Messages

Galway One World Centre 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

Galway One World Centre 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, Galway One World Centre 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. Galway One World Centre 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.

 Download a pdf version of the Code of Conduct: Dochas Code on Images & Messages

 Have a look at the guide to understanding and implementing the Code of Conduct on Images and Messages: Guide to Code

 Visit Dóchas’ website on the Code of Conduct:

 Visit the Dóchas blog for a variety of articles, discussions and links on various topics, including communicating development.


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 Trisha Buddin at

Dóchas has introduced a cross-sector feedback mechanism that you can make use of, should you not be satisfied with how we handle your comments and feedback. Find out more. (Link to separate page on complaints mechanism)

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.

Complaint mechanism through Dóchas

Signatories to the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages (“the Code”) are obliged to ensure that: the materials and communications they produce are in-keeping with the principles as set out in the Code; and to provide the public with a facility to feedback, both positively and critically, on these communications.

The organisation’s feedback mechanism is to be the first point of contact for those who wish to make a complaint.

However, in the case where an organisation fails to respond or where their response is not deemed satisfactory by the complainant, they may choose to initiate the following complaints process.

Requirements for lodging a complaint:

 Complaints must be addressed to the Dóchas Director at

 Complaints must be against Code signatories only (Please see here for a full list of signatories).

 Complaint must clearly indicate which principle or principles of the Code the complainant feels may have been breached, and why (Please click here to download the Code of Conduct).

 Complaint must clearly indicate the full name of the complainant (this information will be kept confidential to Dóchas and anyone involved in the process) and the complaint must clearly indicate the format/medium the complainant feels may have breached the Code (ie. Website, TV ad, poster, etc) and provide a link, copy or full description of the piece.


1. Complainant writes to the Dóchas Director following the requirements outlined above.

2. Dóchas Director sends an acknowledgement of receipt to the complainant.

3. Dóchas Director transmits essence of the complaint to the organisation, keeping the details of the complainant anonymous.

4. Dóchas receives response from the organisation and transmits response to complainant. At this point, should the complainant deem the response to be satisfactory, the case shall be considered to be resolved and Dóchas will confirm that this is the case with both the complainant and the organisation in question.

In the case where the response is deemed unsatisfactory, then the complaints procedure will continue as follows:

5. Dóchas Director examines the case and decides whether:

a) to dismiss the issue as no breach to the Code was found.

b) to bring the complaint to the attention of the Dóchas Board.

6. Complainant and the organisation will be informed of Dóchas Director’s decision.

The following process will apply if the Dóchas Director decides to bring the complaint to the attention of the Dóchas Board:

7. Dóchas Director transmits essence of the complaint and the response from the organisation to Dóchas Board.

8. Dóchas Board raises complaint with the organisation in question.

9. Dóchas Board receives response from the organisation.

10. Dóchas Board makes final decision about the complaint whether the organisation has breached the Code or not.

11. Complainant and the organisation will be informed in writing of the decision.

Dóchas commits to ensuring that the complaints are dealt within a timely and professional manner.