Code of Conduct for Humanitarian Organizations
On behalf of US ISPO, I invite you to join us developing this agreement intended to maximize the effectiveness of humanitarian and development assistance. Please read the Code of Conduct carefully and contact US ISPO if you have comments or suggestions as to how to improve the content, format, or wording. If you agree with the Code of Conduct in its current form, please fill out the Endorsement Form. Your organization will be listed among those who endorse the Code of Conduct, including a badge that will appear on your listing in the O&P Humanitarian Database.
Special thanks to the International Committee of the Red Cross for their initial work in developing a Code of Conduct. Their document entitled Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief has served as an example for our efforts.
Jon Batzdorff, CPO
Code of Conduct for Humanitarian Organizations
Applied to Haiti Assistance
The sheer quantity of humanitarian assistance efforts in Haiti is heartwarming and inspiring. But it is also alarmingly inconsistent, with examples ranging from well thought out and appropriate relief work to the infamous charitable group that allegedly kidnapped the children. Rob Kistenberg, president of US ISPO, recently put out an appeal to all those prosthetic, orthotic, and mobility organizations offering assistance in Haiti to study and endorse the US ISPO Code of Conduct.
The ISPO Code of Conduct for International Non-Governmental Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Mobility Assistance was first developed by US ISPO to address the problem of charitable individuals and organizations offering free or low-cost services in developing countries only to find that their well-intentioned activities are actually harming local businesses, or may be otherwise inappropriate. The Code was published on the US ISPO website along with a form allow organizations to officially endorse the Code. The website then acknowledges and lists the signers. Those organizations that are also on the Humanitarian Data Base are recognized as well.
In response to the number of individuals who wrote in to endorse the Code of Conduct, US ISPO recently added a listing for individuals and that list is steadily growing. “We are delighted with the response we have received both in the US and in Latin America where the problem was first recognized. This code is a cornerstone in cooperative efforts to serve the disabled in developing countries in the most sustainable way possible”, said Jon Batzdorff, CPO who drafted the Code.
Of particular concern are organizations that use inappropriate components or “fit and run” programs. One such program recently offered to provide 150 prostheses to Haitians who would be flown to Columbia to be fit and then fly back to Haiti. This example of non-sustainable assistance exemplifies the need for the Code of Conduct.
Questions, comments, or suggestions regarding the Code may be direct to Jon Batzdorff, CPO, Chair of the International Outreach Committee of USISPO. ()
Address suggestions and comments to
Jonathan Batzdorff, CPO
ISPO Code of Conduct
Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Mobility Assistance
Prepared by Jonathan Batzdorff CPO
International Outreach Committee, US ISPO
The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) offering prosthetic and orthotic and mobility aid and assistance to communities in developing countries is steadily increasing. Assistance ranges from direct fittings, donations of materials, supplies, used prostheses, wheelchairs, and shoes, to building clinics and training local practitioners. NGOs providing assistance range from large organizations to individual practitioners.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recognized that many NGOs claimed to be humanitarian but in fact "many launched operations in the field according to questionable, vague, or sometimes nonexistent ethical standards. As a result, the integrity of humanitarian action itself was threatened." In response to this concern, the Red Cross developed the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief. The Code generally suggests that aid should not have political or religious strings attached, that building and supporting local capacity is valued over blindly handing out direct services or materials, and that every attempt is made to avoid creating dependence.
ISPO, as the world professional organization for prosthetics and orthotics and mobility, is the appropriate body for developing and recommending a Code of Conduct specifically addressing organizations, groups, or individuals offering assistance in prosthetics and orthotics. Like the Red Cross Code of Conduct, the ISPO document is not to prescribe methodology or procedures but rather to codify the ethical standards of assistance to which we agree as a profession and to which we aspire to achieve.
Code of Conduct
Prosthetic and Orthotic
Nongovernmental Humanitarian and Development Assistance
The following code of conduct applies to those who offer prosthetic, orthotic or mobility related assistance. For simplicity, the term "organization" will be used to mean any NGO, organization, group, or individual offering such assistance. Adherence to the code is strictly voluntary.
- An organization providing prosthetic/orthotic/mobility aid shall not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, nationality or political party in the selection of its projects or in the conduct of its operations.
- Assistance shall not require any political or religious endorsements or behavior in order to receive benefits.
- Assistance organizations shall respect the local customs and culture of the communities it serves.
- When possible, all attempts shall be made to encourage and support local capacity for providing prosthetic and orthotic and mobility services, including evaluations, fabrication, follow up and replacement.
- When possible, attempts shall be made to avoid creating dependence of the local community on the NGO for future follow up, adjustments, replacements, or for additional materials and supplies.
- In order to avoid creating ongoing dependence, when possible, materials will be used which can be found or acquired locally.
- Attempts will be made to assure that existing local service providers are not adversely affected by the organization's activities such as when the organization provides services to recipients who would otherwise be served by local service providers.
- When possible attempts will be made to coordinate efforts, planning, and delivering of services with the local community, with local service providers and with the recipients of the service.
- Though humanitarian assistance responds to emergency needs and may not consider developing local capacity as its primary goal, the organization should, when possible, include development efforts in its programming.