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IPRA Code of Athens – the first international code of public relations ethics: Its development and implementation since 1965.

Watson, T., 2013. IPRA Code of Athens – the first international code of public relations ethics: Its development and implementation since 1965. In: EUPRERA Congress, 3--5 October 2013, Barcelona, Spain.

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Tom Watson - IPRA Code of Athens (EUPRERA 2013) Final.pdf - Accepted Version



In 1965, the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) adopted the International Code of Ethics, which became known as the Code of Athens (IPRA 2001). The Code was authored by Lucien Matrat, a French public relations pioneer, and reflected a hopeful, post-World War 2 ethical framework with its strong linkage to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (IPRA, 1994). A code of ethics was an early strategic imperative of IPRA, established 10 years before, and was coupled with a Code of Conduct, known as the Code of Venice of 1961 (IPRA, 1961, 2009). Both codes were adopted by many national public relations associations and widely promoted. Amongst the recipients of presentation copies of the Code of Athens were Pope Paul VI and government leaders. The Code was simultaneously adopted by the Centre Européenne des Relations Publiques (CERP). Bowen (2007) says it was based on “general moral principles of ethical behavior, such as the focus on dignity, respect, and human rights” (p. 1). Using sources from the IPRA archive, which only became available in 2011, and an interview with the sole surviving IPRA founder, the paper explores the Code’s evolution and its subsequent implementation and modification. A feature of the debate within IPRA about the Code was whether it was a statement of moral standards or a statement of ideals to which members should aspire. Prominent IPRA members from Anglo-American countries considered that the Code, while laudable, was unenforceable and impractical. In 1968, the Code was amended and made less rigorous. In the late 1990s, IPRA members from Eastern Europe and the Middle East asked for a “simple English” version as the Code’s language, originally translated from French, was considered difficult to comprehend. There was a further revision in 2009. In 2011, IPRA consolidated the Codes of Venice, Athens and Brussels into a single, 18-point code (IPRA, 2011). IPRA’s archive (to 2002), however, does not show any disciplinary application of the Codes to its members and their conduct over 37 years from 1965. The paper also considers the historical issues of preparing and implementing deontological ethical statements for public relations (Bowen, 2007; Budd, 1991; Fitzpatrick and Bronstein, 2006; IPRA, 2007; Parsons, 2005; Seib and Fitzpatrick, 1995).

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ethics ; IPRA ; Public relations ; Code of Athens ; PR
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21244
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 May 2014 12:54
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:48


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