C4JR Endorses Internal Guidelines on Ethical Engagement with SGBV Survivors

On March 17, 2021 C4JR adopted Internal Guidelines on Ethical Engagement with Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence to govern members’ engagement with survivors in C4JR-related work. Internal Guidelines and a Checklist for Media Involvement, as a more practical document to resort to when faced with media requests, are part of C4JRs efforts to place the well-being and preferences of survivors front-and-center of its activities. Creating ethical and safe environment for survivors to have a say on what matters to them is raison d’etre and an utmost priority for the Coalition.

C4JR encouraged members to adopt the Guidelines for all engagement (not just for C4JR-related work) with survivors. Furthermore, given the wealth of experience and expertise of C4JR members on this issue and its relevance to the Coalition´s mandate, the C4JR is well-placed to promote this cause beyond its own work. To that end, members agreed that the Guidelines shall be published online on the C4JR website and promoted through social media. Upon survivors’ demands, the C4JR will engage in advocacy to create broader awareness of and compliance with ethical rules among journalists, social media accounts with large followings and humanitarian actors in Iraq and elsewhere. We hope to see the Guidelines gain wider recognition over time from all entities dealing with survivors including national authorities.


The idea of an internal document providing guidance for C4JR members and activists on interacting with survivors and facilitating media requests in an ethical manner emerged during the consultations that led to establishing the C4JR. The first step was made by bringing members and experts together in an online workshop on ethical interaction with survivors on June 8-9, 2020, where attendees discussed humanitarian and journalistic ethics within the context of C4JR’s work. More specifically, the following topics have been discussed: Informed consent and the principle of Do-No-Harm, ethical engagement with media and protecting interests of survivors, trauma informed communication with survivors and briefing survivors for public events.

Presentations and discussions held at the workshop as well as ethical principles and available guidelines on reporting and documenting SGBV[1] served as a basis for the first draft of the guidelines which were translated into Arabic and distributed among[MO1] C4JR members for further comments. The second draft has been discussed during an internal workshop on January 20, 2021 where comments and suggestions of the Yazidi Survivors Network on the initial draft have been considered as well. The advanced version has been adopted at the C4JR general meeting held on March 17, 2021.

[1] WHO (2007). WHO Ethical and safety recommendations for researching, documenting and monitoring sexual violence in emergencies, https://www.who.int/gender/documents/OMS_Ethics&Safety10Aug07.pdf; Dart Centre (2011). Reporting on Sexual Violence, https://dartcenter.org/content/reporting-on-sexual-violence; Global Protection Cluster (2013). Media Guidelines for Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Contexts, https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/5c3701d27.pdf; International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) (2014). IFJ Guidelines for Reporting on Violence Against Women, https://www.ifj.org/fileadmin/images/Gender/Gender_documents/IFJ_Guidelines_for_Reporting_on_Violence_Against_Women_EN.pdf; UNFPA (2020). Reporting on Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Journalists_Handbook_-_March_8_-_English.pdf; Institute for International Criminal Investigations, Nadia’s Initiative and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. (2020). Draft Global Code of Conduct for Investigating and Documenting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (“Murad Code”), https://www.muradcode.com/draft-murad-code.