4.4 Sensitive or controversial issues

Sensitive or controversial issues for CARE can vary from country to country and depend on the context, but in general they include anything that could have a negative impact on staff safety, programs, beneficiaries, government, partner or donor relations, or CARE’s global reputation. CARE generally handles sensitive/controversial issues through private advocacy or joint messaging with other agencies. CARE can and does engage in advocacy and communications on controversial or sensitive issues, but this must only be done after following a process of due diligence and adhering to the guidance provided in section 2.3 of the CARE International Communications Handbook. This also applies to joint messaging with other agencies. For explanation on why certain issues/countries are sensitive and existing CARE approaches and public messaging, see Annex 1 of the CI Communications Handbook: Explanation and potential risks regarding messaging around sensitive issues/countries. Any additional issues that may be considered sensitive in a particular emergency should be identified as soon as possible in coordination with the Emergency Communications Officer, Lead Member and CO. If there is only one small issue that is sensitive in an emergency, i.e. saying ‘acute watery diarrhea’ instead of cholera because a government has requested this, that can be included in the communications guidance/instructions for messaging; the full procedures for sensitive issues do not need to be followed. This should be clarified with the CO and LM at the outset of the emergency. Please also check the guidance on language in humanitarian settings, explaining which words can be used and which are rather inappropriate in a sensitive context (Annex 13.18)

Note: These are simplified sign-off procedures for basic media and communications materials. For the full sign-off protocol (which includes instructions for how to get sign-off for advocacy/communications targeting governments, UN agencies etc.), please see section 2.5 of the CARE International Communications Handbook.

Target group Person responsible Input potentially required Approvals needed
Media (particularly new messaging): i.e. Press releases, talking points, Q&A Emergency Communications Officer Sector specialists CO (CD, ACD or Emergency Team Leader)
Blogs, stories, photos Emergency Communications Officer   NOTE: usually the CO agrees that stories and blogs do NOT need approval, provided they follow CARE’s communications principles. This should be agreed with the CO in advance.
Target group Person responsible Input potentially required Approvals needed
Media (particularly new messaging): i.e. Press releases, talking points, Q&A Emergency Communications Officer Sector specialist, REC, security advisor, advocacy advisor (depending on nature of emergency) CO (CD, ACD or Emergency Team Leader)Lead Member*
Blogs, stories, photos Emergency Communications Officer Sector specialist, REC, security advisor, advocacy advisor  (depending on nature of emergency) NOTE: usually the CO agrees that stories and blogs do NOT need approval, provided they follow CARE’s communications principles and previously approved messaging guidance for the emergency. This should be agreed with the CO in advance.

*Lead Member point person is the Media/Communications Manager for communications materials. It is their responsibility to consult with/obtain approval from the relevant Lead Member senior staff, such as Head of Program, Security Director, Legal Advisor, etc. or regional offices, where these exist. If the Media/Communications Manager is unavailable, contact the CO Line Manager directly.