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Keywords:

  • Code of Conduct;
  • humanitarian NGOs;
  • humanitarian principles;
  • neutrality;
  • standards

Abstract

This paper examines the present value of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief, in view of discussions on neutrality and the Western bias of the humanitarian aid system, and assesses how it can retain its relevance in future.1 The Code of Conduct was launched just after the Rwanda genocide of April 1994. A decade later, the crises in Afghanistan and Iraq have sparked renewed interest in humanitarian principles and in whether the code can serve as an instrument to define humanitarianism and guide humanitarian decision-making and coordination. More than 300 organisations have now subscribed to it. This paper is based on the findings of a survey of code signatories and the outcomes of a conference on the value and future of the code, held in The Hague, Netherlands, in September 2004 to mark its tenth anniversary.2