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Communication & Engagement Publication

Inclusive Communication Guide for International Cooperation 

This Inclusive Communication Guide for International Cooperation is a product of the Partos Innovation Hub in collaboration with the Humanitarian Communication Expertise Centre (HuCom). We see ethical, inclusive and equal communication as essential for creating a more just world. With this guide we offer international cooperation organisations in the Netherlands and abroad feedback and tools to become aware of and contribute to this.

08 December 2023

The Inclusive Communication Guide for International Cooperation  

The guide consists of three parts that form a whole but can also be read and used independently: the Basic principles for Inclusive communication, the Inclusive glossary and the Future Briefs on the history, representation and production of humanitarian communication. Together, this publication offers depth and reflection on the practice of ethical, inclusive and equal communication in international cooperation.   

Read the Guide in English

Read the Guide in Dutch

Community of Practice on Inclusive Communication  

With the Community of Practice on Inclusive Communication, we have worked since April 2022 on topics of Inclusive communication. Together, we explored ways to make our communication work more ethical, inclusive and equitable in all senses. Not only through the stories we tell or the words and images we use but also in our ways of working with our international partners and communities involved. We discussed and worked on creating tools to make our communication practices more inclusive, just and ethical. The results of this exploration, we put into the Inclusive Communication Guide, which includes guiding principles, a glossary and future briefs with reflections on topics such as history and power relations and storytelling. We created the Inclusive Communication guide as an attempt to train ourselves and others in making the communication practices in our sector more inclusive. 

Language evolves

The launch of the guide doesn’t mean the process is finished. Words, stories or images that are hailed as inclusive today may become problematic tomorrow. Continued efforts in changing language are necessary because the process of escaping power relations in language is dynamic and never-ending. As we discovered, the vocabulary within international cooperation is not a neutral reflection of the reality we want to describe but a historically grown language. Social relations, past and present, shape our language, and this language is, therefore, an expression of power relations within the field. Our language at our disposal was thus formed in colonial history and the unequal international relations that followed. To avoid reproducing these power relations in our language, it is essential to scrutinise them constantly. In this way, we can choose words that do not deny the power relations present but do not reaffirm them either: we are looking for a vocabulary that acknowledges and questions power relations, that names them but also deconstructs them. Balancing this is difficult and often paradoxical, but it is also productive because it forces us to rethink respectful, balanced and critical communication and collaboration. 

Printable PDF versions

Although we’re very happy with the interactive design, we can imagine a PDF version can be useful. The individual PDF versions (for printing), you can find below:

Feedback & updates Guide

The Inclusive Communication Guide for International Cooperation will be updated regularly as language and power relations evolve. Feel free to give us feedback. We will collect and reflect on them. Twice a year, we will update the guide accordingly. You can send your comments to Erika van Heeringen (