In March 2015 a group of journalists and scholar-practitioners in social science from the South Caucasus met in Tbilisi, with an aim to develop a code of ethics for journalists covering conflicts in the region. The following code of ethics was jointly prepared during the meeting and developed later with the feedback from an expanded group of journalists.

The working meeting was organized by the Imagine Center for Conflict Transformation. The meeting was supported through contribution of the Black Sea Trust Fund.


The range of ethical guidelines, presented in this document, reflect the depth of experience accumulated in the field of conflict sensitive journalism over decades, and can be seen as universal and applicable to various conflict situations. At the same time, the guidelines below also reflect the cultural and political particularities as well as regional conflicts of the South Caucasus.

The authors’ point of departure in developing this code f ethics, is that journalists writing about conflicts and covering military operations and clashes, have the power to create and shape conflict discourses, thus influencing the development of existing conflicts, the emergence of new ones, or alternatively, their peaceful transformation.

In the broadest sense, even journalists who have never been to the areas of direct military operations and actual clashes, contribute to the construction of the discourse, the reasons, events and consequences of the conflict among their respective societies vis-à-vis the coverage they produce and stories they publish.

Modern journalism in the South Caucasus formed following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Due to lack of skilled and well-trained journalists often those entering the field were vaguely familiar with the contemporary methods and requirements of journalism let alone conflict sensitive reporting. As a result the discourse around the conflict was rather mixed – often aggressive than neutral. Lacking necessary professional training and experience, journalists often unknowingly have become a side to the conflict, contributing to its intractability rather than offer an objective and balanced coverage.

The guidelines provided in this code aim to promote professional approaches and regulations for the coverage and analysis of conflict developments in the South Caucasus.

In the preparation of the document the authors focused on the principles of professional journalism, which includes guidelines urging the journalists not to become instruments of ideology, often a tool for creating and deepening conflicts further.

This code of ethics is a call for the regional journalists to position themselves for covering and analyzing conflicts in an honest and professional manner.

1. Do No Harm:

2. Do Not Become Part Of Information Wars:

3. Do Not Become Part of Conflict Discourse/Language:

4. Taboo and Self Censorship:

5. Terminology/Vocabulary

We encourage the journalists working in the context of the South Caucasus conflicts to adopt this code and continue to evolve it.

[1] Data verification is essential to avoid risk of producing or replicating false information

[2] CLICHÉS are words or word combinations/phrases permanently used with a negative implication or provoking a negative response/reaction.

STEREOTYPES are thoughts, ideas repeated at a definite frequency with a negative implication or a direct negative content.