CIfA Code of conduct redraft consultation

CIfA is undertaking a review of the Code of conduct: professional ethics in archaeology. This has been triggered by the recognition that the Code, though added to and amended from time to time, is 40 years old, and has not have evolved as far or as fast as the values and ethics of our profession. The current Code of conduct can be accessed by following this link.

An advisory group drawn from a wide range of interests and perspectives in CIfA’s membership has had extensive input into drafting and guiding this process. Earlier this year, members contributed invaluable views and input into a new re-drafted Code of conduct via a consultation, as well as discussion at the CIfA 2023 conference. The Advisory Council collated the output of this consultation to produce a draft Code that has got us much closer to one fit for the 21st century.

We are now asking for your comments on a first draft of a new Code of conduct, which you can read by following this link. The new Code, if approved at an AGM, will be our Code: all members can help write it; all accredited members will be bound by it and expected to promote it. So we need consensus. To build a consensus amongst CIfA’s membership around a re-drafted, updated Code that’s more relevant to today’s archaeologists we need to test this draft. Is the tone right? Is anything missing, or has anything been removed from the current Code that you think should be retained?

Before you send your feedback, we’d like to highlight just some of the issues in the current Code that you said need to be revised and updated

  • present it in a way that emphasises that all accredited members have made a voluntary, personal commitment to practising ethically in accordance with the Code (this version is phrased as ‘I will…’)
  • ensure global applicability, including by taking out references to national legislation and policy
  • emphasise the obligations of subscribing to the Code, to the public, clients and colleagues, and to the historic and natural environment
  • explain better how the Code articulates with standards, guidance, policy statements and professional conduct allegations
  • consider a clause on promoting the Code and intervening when unethical behaviour is suspected
  • emphasise obligations for positive action, not just avoiding unethical behaviour
  • recast the conservation principle to emphasise considered judgement about the balance of the benefits of conservation and of offsetting benefits from destructive investigation and other approaches, and address ‘rescue’ v ‘research’ which is seen by most as outmoded
  • condense the Code and make it more concise (this version is 64% shorter than the current): sharpen up the text to be firmer and punchier, and put the detailed guidance in other documents (please note that it hasn’t had a plain English edit yet)

Follow this link to the CIfA Code of conduct redraft consultation form and complete by 25 January 2024 to ensure that your views and opinions are taken into account. Should you prefer to email your feedback rather than use the consultation form, please send your emails to: Contributions will be reviewed by the advisory panel and fed into an updated re-draft of the Code, for further consideration by its owners, the membership.