Informed consent

When interviewing, photographing and videoing those affected by humanitarian crises on behalf of CARE International, it is imperative that all CARE staff obtain meaningful, informed consent from the subject. Not only is this a legal requirement in many countries but it is a moral obligation to ensure those we interview are fully aware of where, how and what for their image and stories could be used for in order to maintain the humanitarian principle of ‘do no harm’.

It is crucial that all consent obtained be informed. While legally, a signature or mark is important, the policy requires that all Subjects be told, in a clear manner, how any materials may be used in a way that ensures that they fully understand the implications. In the case of use by CARE, the Subject(s) – once fully informed – can give consent orally in certain exceptional circumstances, but written consent in the form of a signature or mark is the policy standard.  

Assessing risk to the subject

The levels of risk depend on what the context is, but as a general rule, you should always remove one of the ‘three pillars of risk’ when photographing vulnerable groups such as children:

  1. face/identity;
  2. exact location and;
  3. name

You should remove two or three if they are considered high risk (e.g. a child who is currently or formerly associated with an armed group, or a survivor of sexual assault).

If a decision to change the name of a vulnerable Minor is made, this must be clearly articulated in the materials, including associated captions, metadata information and notes, by using an asterix * and noting *Name has been changed to protect identity.

In breaking emergencies it can often be challenging to obtain full written consent with people on the move and in distress. In these instances recorded verbal consent can be used. Similarly, for subjects who are illiterate oral recorded consent, finger print marks or other forms of marking can be used.

If in doubt, or you have any queries on CARE’s global consent policy, please contact CI Secretariat Communications team.

CARE’s consent policy and consent forms in English, French, Spanish and Arabic can be found here on the Global Communications Hub and in the annex section of the Toolkit below.