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Celebrating 40 Years of the International Code of the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

Adopted in 1981, the Code is a Recommendation to the 194 countries that are members of the World Health Assembly aimed at eliminating inappropriate and harmful marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

badgeCelebrating the Code’s 40th Anniversary

40 years ago, the world acted to eliminate the inappropriate and harmful marketing of breastmilk substitutes. With partners around the world, Alive & Thrive is marking this important anniversary with a variety of insightful articles and materials. Read more.


calendar iconStart here: Timeline

Explore important dates in the history of efforts to fight inappropriate, harmful breastmilk substitute marketing on this timeline. You can also download this printable version.


articles iconFeature Articles

The Code is complex with a variety of factors affecting implementation. To help clarify the issues, we're pleased to feature insightful pieces written by thought leaders on the Code.


david clarkDavid Clark on the Code - a special four-part series
Part 1: So much, so little: The Code has saved millions of lives - but we need to do more
Part 2: After decades of advocacy, the Code was adopted: A brief history
Part 3: Everyone has a role to play to support the Code
Part 4: The way forward: What we need to do to protect, promote & support breastfeeding


kshats 150Meet Kathy Shats, the new UNICEF legal specialist overseeing implementation of the Code
Kathy Shats joins UNICEF from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator and will support countries to implement the Code. Thanks to that experience, she's familiar with the playbook companies use to block policies to protect the public.


HastingsUnderstanding the powerful marketing that convinces millions to use BMS
Prof. Gerard Hastings of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling explains the ingenious techniques breastmilk substitute companies use to push their products.


Cambodia photostoryPhotostory: Protecting breastfeeding and enforcing the Code in Cambodia
The Government of Cambodia has translated the Code into national legislation and is taking action against violations.


Constance ChingHow the International Code Documentation Centre grew into a major force to implement the Code
Constance Ching traces the history of the ICDC from its humble beginnings in the 1970s.


resources iconBMS Code Resources


We've curated this collection of resources from partners around the world. Search by location, topic, and audience. To propose a resource for the collection, send us an email.

Get answers to frequently asked questions  and watch this video from Save the Children Norway to understand what's at stake. Learn more about the international movement at the Global Breastfeeding Collective's website.

The short video below charts implementation of the Code since its adoption in 1981.

social iconSocial Media Toolkit

Use this toolkit to join the online conversation. Use the hashtags #BMSCodeAt40 and #BabiesBeforeProfits to follow along and contribute your ideas!

Social media events
Facebook Live Q&A with David Clark, UNICEF legal specialist for 25 years: June 8, 2021