International journalism codes

ASEAN - 1989
Council of Arab Information Ministers - 1978
Federation of Arab Journalists - 1972
International Federation of Journalists - 1986
Islamic Media Conference - 1980
UNESCO - 1983


Adopted by the 1989 Seventh Assembly of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists


The Confederation of ASEAN journalists, aware of the responsibility of journalists to the public in each country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with a view to achieving peace and progress in the region, hereby promulgates this Code of Ethics for ASEAN Journalists.

  1. The ASEAN journalist shall resort only to fair, open and honest means or efforts to obtain news, photographs or documents necessary to enable him/her to carry out his/her professional work, properly identifying him/herself in the process as being a representative from media.

  2. The ASEAN journalist shall no allow personal motives or interests to influence him/her or to colour his/her views in a manner that would reflect on his/her professional integrity or would undermine the dignity of his/her profession.

  3. The ASEAN journalism shall not demand or accept any payment, gift or other consideration by way of recompense for reporting what is not true, or withholding or suppressing the truth.

  4. The ASEAN journalist shall honestly report and interpret the news, making sure to the best of his/her knowledge and ability, not to suppress essential facts or distort the truth through exaggeration or through wrong or improper emphasis.

  5. The ASEAN journalist shall give any person aggrieved by his/her report or interpretation of the news the right of reply.

  6. The ASEAN journalist shall not violate confidential information or material obtained by him/her in the exercise of his/her calling.

  7. The ASEAN journalist shall not identify his/her source, and shall resist any outside attempt to make him/her do so, when specifically so enjoined by his/her informant.

  8. The ASEAN journalist shall refrain from writing reports which have the effect of destroying the honour or reputation of a private person, unless public interest justifies it.

  9. The ASEAN journalist shall pay due regard to the multi-ethnic, cultural and religious fabric of ASEAN countries.

  10. The ASEAN journalist shall not write reports, opinions or comments which would endanger the security of his/her country or foment armed confrontation between his/her country and any other ASEAN country, striving at all times, instead, to promote closer friendly relations among them.


Council of Arab Information Ministers


Reviewed by the Council of Arab Information Ministers in Cairo (2-3 August 1978) as a prelude to Submission to the Arab Summit for approval

Executing the Arab solidarity charter approved by the Arab summit held at Casablanca in 15 September 1965 and referring to the recommendation and resolutions of the Arab Summit, the Arab League councils and the Council of the Arab Information ministers, which aimed at finding a constructive information policy on both national and humanitarian levels; and also committed to the recommendations of the permanent committee of Arab information at its 30th and 31st sessions that indicated "the necessity of announcing a national Arab Information Charter of Honour", in addition to the Arab information agreements;
Believing in the great role of information in mobilizing the public opinion in the Arab countries that determines national destinies in this crucial phase of the Arab contemporary history and in achieving Arab unity; also preserving the message of information and its high patriotic, national and humanitarian goals; beside the rapid development of means of communication among countries and peoples that has facilitated the finding of facts and interchange of information and drew a new theory of information as a pioneer work of fundamental civilization message of broad affect on individual and community lives;
It has been agreed upon the declaration of the following text of the Arab Information Charter of Honour.

General Principles:

  1. Information is based on two rights: the right of expression and the right of knowledge. Hence it is deeply affecting every development activity of cognition, culture and education. Thus it should emphasize religious and moral values and the accumulated supreme principles of human legacies. It should search for plain truth that could serve justice and virtue. It should strengthen relations, deepen understanding and material and moral reactions and exchange among the Arab world community.

  2. Freedom of expression is a basic condition for successful information. It is also a civilization gain that was achieved by a long human struggle and important part of fundamental liberties that was included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    However, responsibility is a basic condition, too, for practicing this freedom that should not limit the freedom of others.


  1. The Arab information media has got special responsibility towards the Arab human being. It should commit itself to present to him plain truth that could serve his causes, integrate his national identify and develop it culturally, socially and politically. Also, it should bring out his fundamental rights and liberties and consolidate his belief in spiritual values and true ethics. It should bring up the youth to respect the human rights and national dignity, and develop Man's sense of duty towards his society, country and the Arab nation.

  2. The Arab media should make the Arab homeland, his heritage, history and human, material and moral resources and his just causes known.

  3. The Arab media should care about Arab solidarity in all material that is presented to the public opinion inside and outside - it should contribute with all its capacity in supporting understanding and cooperation between the Arab countries. It should avoid what might harm Arab solidarity and restrain from personal campaigns.

  4. The Arab media should refuse apartheid, religious and other kinds of fundamentalism. It struggles for the just principles and the right of self-determination of the peoples, and right of individuals in freedom and dignity. It should be committed to the struggle against all kinds of colonialism, different types of aggression and should support the developing and non-aligned countries. It should coordinate with the friendly media people to influence the international public opinion for the benefit of the Arabs and their friends.

  5. The Arab journalists should commit themselves to truth and honesty while they are doing their job and should restrain from degrading other peoples directly or indirectly and should respect their national sovereignty and choices.They should not interfere in their domestic affairs. Also, they shouldn't abuse the media to propagate violence or to insult heads of states.

  6. The Arab journalists should commit themselves to truth and objectivity in publishing news and comments. They should refrain from using illegal methods in obtaining news, pictures, documents, etc. and they should keep their sources secret, as far as national security is not involved.

  7. The Arab journalists should keep the Arabic language correct and sound and expand it among the Arab nation in order to substitute dialects.

  8. The Arab media should pay special attention to Arab news and information materials in general, and to the news and materials that are supplied by the Arab and friendly newspapers.

  9. The Arab journalists should bring up individual gifts and capabilities and discover them among the new generations.

The Duties of Governments and Institutions:

  1. The Arab governments guarantee the freedom of professional consciousness of the journalists. They should facilitate their work in accordance with this charter and the supreme Arab goals.

  2. The Arab governments guarantee the free movement of Arab journalists in all parts of the Arab homeland and should guarantee the freedom of work and professional organization.

  3. The Arab governments facilitate the freedom of Arab press circulation and the free flow of information. They should not confiscate or censor unless there is absolute necessity.

  4. The rights of authors are guaranteed by law and all necessary legislation for this purpose should be put to effect in all Arab countries.

Source: Nordenstreng, Kaarle (Ed.) 1989: Journalist: Status, Rights and Responsibilities. Prague: International Organization of Journalists, p.275-277

Federation of Arab Journalists


adopted by Third Conference of the Federation of Arab Journalists, April 1972, Baghdad. The Code is based on the following principles:

  1. Commitments to the objectives of the public and the right of the Arab nation to unity, freedom and progress.

  2. Journalists adhere to respect the right of individuals to privacy and dignity. They should abstain from publishing personal or family scandals aiming to weaken family relations.

  3. The message of the press is sacred, it should not be subjected to opportunism, dishonesty, defamation.

  4. The message of the press entails adherence to objective reality and truth. Journalists are committed to obtain information and facts by legal means and to correct any published material in case of discovering inaccuracy in it.

  5. Solidarity among Arab journalists must be based on defence of professional ethics, exposing those who behave improperly or those who seek out personal profit and give priority to personal interests by publishing unfounded news and by making statements aiming to create sensation and to encourage corruption and crime.

  6. Journalists are committed to support justice in courts not to stand by any party against the other or support any case as far as the authority concerned had not issued the sentence yet.

  7. Journalists should respect publication rights, abstain from plagiarism.

  8. Before practicing the profession the journalist - according to the statute of his own organization - should make the following oath: "I swear by professional honour to perform my work honestly and truthfully, keep professional secrets, abide by its regulations and traditions and defend its dignity."

  9. There should be a demarcation between opinions and advertisements so that no propaganda or political opinions and ideas slip into publication as edited materials. Such materials should be clearly specified as advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

Political advertisements submitted by foreign bodies are prohibited unless they are in harmony with the national policy. In that case publication should be equal to established ordinary prices in order not to turn advertisement into indirect donation from a Foreign State.
Members of affiliated unions and organizations should refrain from publishing their names under advertisements so that the reputation and moral influence of journalists are not utilized by advertizers.
Advertisement represents a social service, its essential function is to push the scale of goods which are useful to the consumer and such a function does need to be performed through lies or cheating. Newspapers, magazines and other mass media are entitled to check data and facts in advertisements in order to maintain the reputation of the press. In addition, journalists should dedicate pages for special issues on edited advertisement which spread propaganda for the benefit of imperialist states, reactionary forces and foreign monopolies which contradicts supreme Arab interests.

Source: Nordenstreng, Kaarle (Ed.) 1989: Journalist: Status, Rights and Responsibilties. Prague: International Organization of Journalists, p. 273-274

International Federation of Journalists


Adopted by the Second World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists at Bordeaux on 25-28 April 1954 and amended by the 18th IFJ World Congress in Helsingör on 2-6 June 1986.

This international Declaration is proclaimed as a standard of professional conduct for journalists engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information and in describing events.

  1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.

  2. In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right of fair comment and criticism.

  3. The journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he/ she knows the origin. The journalist shall not suppress essential information or falsify documents.

  4. The journalist shall use only fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.

  5. The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate.

  6. The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.

  7. The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins.

  8. The journalist shall regard as grave professional offences the following:

    - plagiarism
    - malicious misrepresentation
    - calumny, slander, libel, unfounded accusations
    - the acceptance of a bribe in any form in consideration of either publication or suppression.

    • Journalists worthy of that name shall deem in their duty to observe faithfully the principles stated above. Within the general law of each country the journalist shall recognize in professional matters the jurisdiction of colleagues only, to the exclusion of every kind of interference by governments or others.

    Islamic Media Conference (Jakarta 1980)


    adopted by the First International Islamic Mass Media Conference, Jakarta, 1.-3. September 1980.
    The Islamic Mass Media Charter is an integral part of the Jakarta Declaration

    In keeping with our belief in Allah and Allah's Apostle; and in implementation of Islamic Shariah; and in complete awareness of the imminent dangers besetting the Muslim Ummah and impeding its religious reawakening and in appreciation of the important role of the various forms of Mass-Media and its worthy aims, integrity of the profession and its tradition and; conscious of the goals and aspirations of the Ummah, we workers in the Islamic Media who are now gathered here at the First International Islamic Mass-Media Conference, hereby endorse this charter for Islamic Media. We solemnly pledge to conform to it and regard it a torchlight for all our endeavours as well as a source of rights and obligations.

    Article 1

    • Consolidation of faith of the Muslim individual in Islamic values and ethical principles.

    • Work towards achieving integration of the Muslim individual's Islamic personality.

    • Endeavour to present real facts within the frame-work of Islamic rule of conduct.

    • Endeavour to acquaint the Muslim individual with his duties towards others, his basic rights and liberties.

    Article 2

    • Muslim Media-Men should strive to unite the ranks of Muslims, and to advocate resorting to wisdom, Islamic brotherhood and tolerance in solving their problems.

    • Islamic Media-men should be committed to the following: To combat all forms of colonialism, aggression, Fascism and Racism.

    • To combat Zionism and its colonialist policy of creating settlements as well as its ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people.

    • Islamic Media-men should keep vigilance against anti-Islamic ideas and trends.

    Article 3

    • Islamic Media-Men should censor all material which is either broadcast or published, in order to protect the Ummah from influences which are harmful to Islamic character and values, and in order to forestall all dangers.

    • Islamic Media-workers should follow a decent style in carrying out the duties and should in preserving the integrity of the profession and Islamic traditions avoid using offensive words and refrain from publishing obscene material, nor indulge in cynicism, slander, provocation of "Fitna'' rumour-mongering and other forms of defamatory actions.

    • To refrain from either broadcasting or publishing anything that goes against public morality and the rules of decent demeanour. This also means any condoning of crime, violence, suicide or anything that arouses terror or provokes lower instincts, whether directly or indirectly, should be strictly avoided.

    • Commercial advertisements which go against morality should be stricly debarred from either broadcasts or publications.

    Article 4

    Islamic journalists must be committed to the propagation of Da'wah, to elucidating Islamic issues and to the defence of Muslim point of view. They should also seek to introduce Muslim peoples to one another. They should also be interested in Islamic history, Islamic civilization and the promotion of Arabic language and its dissemination among Muslims, especially Muslim minorities. They should also be committed to re-establish the dominion of Shariah, in lieu of man-made laws and principles. They must be committed to struggle for the liberation of Palestine, especially Al-Quds. They must be totally dedicated to the idea of the Islamic Ummah which must be untainted by either regional, national or tribal chauvinism. They must also strongly advocate the fight against under development in all its manifestations and support the effort towards full development which should guarantee to the Ummah its betterment and power.

    Source: "The Journal Rabitat Al-Alam Al-lslami", 7. 1980 (12), p. 60-61



    Issued by the Fourth Consultative Meeting of International and Regional Organizations of Journalists in Paris on 20 November 1983.

    International and regional organizations of professional journalists, representing altogether 400 000 working journalists in all parts of the World, have held since 1978 consultative meetings under the auspices of UNESCO.

    The second consultative meeting (Mexico City, 1980) expressed its support to the UNESCO Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and Incitement to War. Moreover, the meeting adopted the "Mexico Declaration" with a set of principles which represent common grounds of existing national and regional codes of journalistic ethics as well as relevant provisions contained in various international instruments of a legal nature.

    The fourth consultative meeting (Prague and Paris, 1983) noted the lasting value of the UNESCO Declaration in which it is stated inter alia that "the exercise of freedom of opinion, expression and information, recognized as an integral part of human rights and fundamental freedoms, is a vital factor in the strengthening of peace and international understanding". Furthermore, the meeting recognized the important role which information and communication play in the contemporary world, both in national and international spheres, with a growing social responsibility being placed upon the mass media and journalists.

    The International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism were prepared by several consultative meetings of international and regional organizations of journalists between 19 78 and 1983. The following organizations participated.

    International Organization of Journalists (IOJ), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP), Latin-American Federation of Journalists (FELAP), Latin-American Federation of Press Workers (FELATRAP), Union of African Journalists (UJA), Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ). The International Federation of Journalists did not participate in the conclusive meeting of this process in Paris, in November 1983, which agreed the document.

    On this basis the following principles of professional ethics in journalism were prepared as an international common ground and as a source of inspiration for national and regional codes of ethics. This set of principles is intended to be promoted autonomously by each professional organization through ways and means most adequate to its members.

    Principle I: Peoples's right to true information

    People and individuals have the right to acquire an objective picture of reality by means of accurate and comprehensive information as well as to express themselves freely through the various media of culture and communication.

    Principle II: The journalist's dedication to objective reality

    The foremost task of the journalist is to serve the people's right to true and authentic information through an honest dedication to objective reality whereby facts are reported conscientiously in their proper context, pointing out their essential connections and without causing distortions, with due deployment of the creative capacity of the journalist, so that the public is provided with adequate material to facilitate the formation of an accurate and comprehensive picture of the world in which the origin, nature and essence of events, processes and states of affairs are understood as objectively as possible.

    Principle III: The journalist's social responsibility

    Information in journalism is understood as social good and not as a commodity, which means that the journalist shares responsibility for the information transmitted and is thus accountable not only to those controlling the media but ultimately to the public at large, including various social interests. The journalist's social responsibility requires that he or she will act under all circumstances in conformity with a personal ethical consciousness.

    Principle IV: The journalist's professional integrity

    The social role of the journalist demands that the profession maintain high standards of integrity, including the journalist's right to refrain from working against his or her conviction or from disclosing sources of information as well as the right to participate in the decision-making of the medium in which he or she is employed. The integrity of the profession does not permit the journalist to accept any form of bribe or the promotion of any private interest contrary to the general welfare. Likewise it belongs to professional ethics to respect intellectual property and, in particular, to refrain from plagiarism.

    Principle V: Public access and participation

    The nature of the profession demands that the journalist promote access by the public to information and participation of the public in the media, including the right of correction or rectification and the right of reply.

    Principle VI: Respect for privacy and human dignity

    An integral part of the professional standards of the journalist is respect for the right of the individual to privacy and human dignity, in conformity with provisions of international and national law concerning protection of the rights and the reputation of others, prohibiting libel, calumny, slander and defamation.

    Principle VII: Respect for public interest

    The professional standards of the journalist prescribe due respect for the national community, its democratic institutions and public morals.

    Principle VIII: Respect for universal values and diversity of cultures

    A true journalist stands for the universal values of humanism, above all peace, democracy, human rights, social progress and national liberation, while respecting the distinctive character, value and dignity of each culture, as well as the right of each people freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems. Thus, the journalist participates actively in the social transformation towards democratic betterment of society and contributes through dialogue to a climate of confidence in international relations conducive to peace and justice everywhere, to détente, disarmament and national development. It belongs to the ethics of the profession that the journalist be aware of relevant provisions contained in international conventions, declarations and resolutions.

    Principle IX: Elimination of war and other great evils confronting humanity

    The ethical commitment to the universal values of humanism calls for the journalist to abstain from any justification for, or incitement to, wars of aggression and the arms race, especially in nuclear weapons, and all other forms of violence, hatred or discrimination, especially racialism and apartheid, oppression by tyrannic regimes, colonialism and neocolonialism, as well as other great evils which afflict humanity, such as poverty, malnutrition and diseases. By so doing, the journalist can help eliminate ignorance and misunderstanding among peoples, make nationals of a country sensitive to the needs and desires of others, ensure the respect for the rights and dignity of all nations, all peoples and all individuals without distinction of race, sex, language, nationality, religion or philosophical conviction.

    Principle X: Promotion of a new world information and communication order

    The journalist operates in the contemporary world within the framework of a movement towards new international relations in general and a new information order in particular. This new order, understood as an integral part of the New International Economic Order, is aimed at the decolonization and democratization of the field of information and communication, both nationally and internationally, on the basis of peaceful coexistence among peoples and with full respect for their cultural identity. The journalist has a special obligation to promote the process of democratization of international relations in the field of information, in particular by safeguarding and fostering peaceful and friendly relations among States and peoples.