Striving for "responsible communication"

01.10.2020, International cooperation

Together with its member and partner organizations, Alliance Sud has drawn up a manifesto for responsible communication on international cooperation. Learn more about it here.

Marco Fähndrich
Marco Fähndrich

Responsible for communications and media

Striving for "responsible communication"

British songwriter Ed Sheeran in Liberia: Celebrities frequently make themselves available for good causes (and photos), including in Switzerland. This helps to entrench a paternalistic concept of development.
© Foto: Comic Relief.

Besides media and political circles, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also contribute to shaping the public perception of the Global South through their fundraising and public relations work. The content of the communication also frequently perpetuates stereotypes – paternalistic images of development portray developed countries as showing "underdeveloped" countries how things are done properly. People of the Global South are often represented as objects and recipients of aid or support, while development organizations and their staff, in contrast, are portrayed as doers and experts.

Many communications activities rarely address the context in which development cooperation takes place, more particularly the structural causes of poverty and exclusion. The systemic interconnections too, in other words the general political, economic and social environments, are often overlooked. The upshot is that the public at large has very limited concrete notions as to the workings and impacts of development cooperation. Frequent contradictions and inconsistencies also arise between development policy campaign work and fundraising, and carry the risk of eroding trust in NGOs.

This manifesto offers some guidance for the staff of NGOs engaged in international cooperation. The core comprises sector-specific guidelines for responsible communication in international cooperation, which represent an undertaking to the public. Our goal is not perfection, but a self-critical and transparent reflection about our own work of communication.


Other organizations working in international cooperation are also welcome to sign the manifesto and use it as a guide for their own communication. To do so, please get in touch directly with the Alliance Sud Media and Communications Officer (