This paper scrutinizes the impact of socioeconomic, political, legal and religious factors on the internal ethical values of human rights organizations (HROs) worldwide. The authors aim to examine the Code of Ethics for 279 HROs in 67 countries and the social and legal settings in which they operate.Design/methodology/approachUsing the framework of protect, respect and remedy, the authors look for keywords that represent the human rights lexicon in these three areas. In the protection of human rights, the authors select the terms: peace, transparency, freedom and security. For the respect of humans, the authors use the terms: dignity, equality, respect and rights. Sources of remedies come from justice and ethics. The analysis seeks to determine what political economy settings drive the ethical value choices of the organizations. Those choices are proxied by those keywords they mention in their Code of Ethics.FindingsThe analysis show that the scope of ethical values mentioned are higher when the HRO is in a country with more domestic violence, lower income inequality, French civil or Islamic legal origin and higher trust in politicians. In regard to the determinants of the ten keywords individually, the authors conclude that the status of the socioeconomic, political, religious and legal settings impact with local HROs mention each of the keywords: peace, justice, transparency, dignity, equality, ethics, respect, freedom, security and rights.Research limitations/implicationsThe analysis is based on HROs that have a webpage in English and list the employee Code of Conduct.Originality/valueThis study is the first to examine the Code of Ethics for HROs. The authors demonstrate that country-specific characteristics help to drive their internal ethical values.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 8, 2018
Keywords: Political economy; Human rights; Values; Codes of Ethics; Human rights organizations