Ethics, standards of personal morality


The Dharma-Charkra or ‘Wheel of Law’ is the most important symbol Buddhism. In an individual’s life, ‘Dharma’ becomes manifest as ‘good’ or noble conduct. Chakra means the wheel and symbolizes a constantly changing universe. The 8 spokes of the wheel correspond to the 8 paths to enlightenment, namely: 1. Right view 2. Right resolution 3. Right speech 4. Right conduct 5. Right means of livehood 6. Right effort 7. Right mindfullness 8. Right concentration.

Ikat Textiles of India, by Chelna Desai (Puting Women First, World health organization)

In Buddhism, as in other religions or cultures, there is a clear difference between good and bad, and there is always a symbol, or a list of commandments or a code of conduct that shows the “right” path to follow to perform good.

In the past, a code of conduct was necessary to be able to cohabitate in a community and don’t kill each other. And even more with the early idea of respecting the “space” of the other. Likewise, in the Public Relations and Campaigning discipline, as in all the other disciplines, a code of behavior is required to provide a proper service respecting the rights of the parties involved. For instance, in the Public Relations and Campaigning discipline, a code of ethics has established in order to provide “the highest standards in the practice of public relations” worldwide. (IPRA, international public relations association)

Particularly in the Public Relations and Campaigning discipline we are dealing with issues that threat human lives, therefore “ethical principles are important to prevent harm” (Adhering to ethics in campaigning, UN Women)

Defining ethics

As the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains: “The field of ethics, also called moral philosophy, involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior” Moreover, apart from distinguishing between what is right and wrong, they define what it has to be valued.

Public Relations ethics include values such as honesty, openness, loyalty, fair-mindedness, respect, integrity, and forthright communication (Ethics and public relations, Institute of Public Relations).

According to the World Health Organization, “ethics can be defined as a system or code of moral values that provides rules and standards of conduct”.The organization also defines the “three primary ethical principles that should guide all inquiries involving human beings” are as follows:

1) Respect for persons, which relates to respecting the autonomy and self-determination of participants, and protecting those who lack autonomy, including by providing security from harm or abuse.

2) Beneficence, a duty to safeguard the welfare of people/communities involved, which includes minimizing risks and assuring that benefits outweigh risks.

3) Justice, a duty to distribute benefits and burdens fairly.

(Adhering to ethics in campaigning, UN Women)

IPRA don’t describe themselves as a police force, nor do codes of morals and ethics. As IPRA states, “every PR practitioner should aspire to observe the principles which the Code elaborates. Each practitioner has to be free to interpret and apply their own standards of personal morality and conscience in observing them in their own cultural context”.

However, sometimes the moral and ethics have to be undermined to be able to defend them.

Does the means justify the ends?

In class, we put into question whether nonviolent direct action (NVDA) was justified or not and we also questioned the moral difference between transparency and accountability. I would like to show some examples that can make one think about the limits of the ethics in this discipline.


Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist resistance group that use the medium of punk music and culture for protesting the regime of Vladimir Putin. Among different actions, we can highlight the performance on the altar of Moscow’s main orthodox church. The women appeared in the church, masked with the intention of praying to the Virgin Mary to remove Putin from power.


And then there’s Femen, the grassroots feminist protest movement in support of women’s rights. The women involved use the nudity to draw attention to their protests.

Both groups are choosing actions that are against the code of ethics of the countries they are performed, even though they are highlighting the violation of ethics from the governments and people of those countries.


World Health Organization. 2007. Putting Women First: Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Research on Domestic Violence Against Women. Available in:

UN Women. Adhering to ethics in campaigning. Available in:

Institute of Public Relations. 2007. Ethics and public relations. Available in:



Refugee crisis: call for emotions

Today, we are witnessing several never-ending armed conflicts around the world that are destroying our civilization and therefore, humanitarian aid is becoming more and more urgently required.

For instance, the Refugee conflict, that has been present for a long time now, has been calling for help from people since the beginning, as some governments have turned their backs.

Governments, non-governmental organizations, activists, communication professionals and individuals, have contributed over the course of 5 years to spreading awareness and mobilizing citizens.

These tasks have been crucial to present the reality of the conflict, the truth out of many truths. Nonetheless, all those actors have used a strategy in order to get a reaction from people.

In this post I explore EMOTIONS as one of the factors that make people taking action. Moreover, I give context describing sensitization campaigns within different platforms.

Emotions and social movement

“Society is the unique whole to which everything is related”
Primitive Classification, Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss

Society, as a conceptual form, has established a structure where emotions, among other factors, are culturally constructed. In this regard, emotions are rational since they are collectively shaped and based on cognitions.

According to the sociologist James M. Jasper:

“strong emotions accompany protest but such emotions don’t render protestors irrational; emotions accompany all social action providing motivation and goals. Social movements are affected by transitory, context-specific emotions, usually reactions to information and events”
The emotions of protest: Affective and social reactive emotions in an around social movements, James J Jasper.

Jasper presents emotions as causal mechanisms shared in a group that constitute our ideas and desires. He looks at different emotions and how they contribute to social mobilization and engagement, and states that not all work the same way. Also, he explores how different emotions interact with one another.

He defines three kinds of emotions: reactive, that creates temporary responses to events such as anger, grief, indignation and shame; affective, as more permanent feelings such as hatred, love, loyalty, trust and respect; moods, somewhere in between such as compassion, cynicism and enthusiasm.

As a case study, I will look at which routes of protest have been taken within communication during the refugee crisis and which emotions have been addressed to.

Refugee crisis: Call for emotions

I have chosen recent and old campaigns that speak for themselves and I have tried to gather a variety of examples addressed to different emotions.


UNHCR, 2007,”It’s great to be a refugee”| Agency: BBDO Canada
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2009, “Stockings” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2009, “Cigarette” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2012, “Dilemma 2” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


UNHCR, 2016, “Electric Pole” | Agency: Y&R
See all campaign


The Hamdi Foundation, 2014,”What if Manhattan”| Agency: Miami ad school
Whatch video
See campaign


Amnesty International, 2015,”Refugees”| Agency: Cossete
See all campaign

alan kurdi.jpg

Exhibited at Arcola theatre, London, 2016,”The misplaced child”| Anonymous
See exhibition


Caritas, 2015,”Barbed wire”| Agency: DDB
See campaign


Nike, 2015,”Miles for refugees”| Agency: Miami ad school
See campaign

rij-rusted_spoon_poster_copy_aotw.jpgRefugees International Japan, 2016,”Rosted Spoon”| Agency: Ogilvy
See all campaign


Kizilayi, 2016,”Ireland”| Agency: Lowe
See all campaign


Oxfam Intermon, Siria, 2013 | Pablo Tosco
See exhibition Sin Filtros, in Madrid, 2016


Doctors without borders, 2016,”Vlog ep. 01″
Whatch video

And to finish with, I present, in my opinion, the best initiative that has been launched in order to engage people into the refugee crisis.  This campaign, allows viewers to follow in the footsteps of migrants and refugees as they complete their journey. I recommend to experience it.

two billion miles.png

Channel 4 news, 2016,”Two Billion Miles” | BBC
See the initiative

Jasper defines emotions as a social construction and therefore they can be rational. However, emotions need a interpretation to become effective and therefore are subjected to a personal “construction”. Whatever are the emotions these campaigns arouse and whatever are the tones of communication, in my opinion and according to my interpretation, they make feel something.

“a photograph is not the reflection of reality, but the reality of that reflection” (Shaughnessy and Stadler 2005:78)

These campaigns have shown us the truth out of many truths or, in other words, the reality out of many realities. But it’s just through emotions and therefore feelings that we can approach to it because it’s something we all have and recognize, although in different forms; irony make me feel sad “It’s great to be a refugee”, the comparison of the refugees situation with ours make me feel bad “they would like to have the same problems as you have” or questions that make me feel scared to imagine I could be in their situation “stay and risk your lives in the conflict? or flee and risk kidnap, rape, torture or worse?”.

Emotions are what secure mobilization. And this mobilization starts from within.



Shaughnessy and Stadler. 2005. Media and Society: an introduction.

Jasper, James M. 2003. Rethinking social movements : structure, meaning, and emotion.

Ads of the world. Available in:

2015. Channel 4. BBC. Available in:

2016. Expo sin filtros. Available in:

Anonymous. 2016. The misplaced child. Exhibited in: Arcola theatre, London.