About Us

About ICDC




The International Code Documentation Centre (ICDC) was formalised in 1991 during a meeting in the Hague, Netherlands to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. That meeting proposed that there should be one worldwide centre to collect and analyse draft legislation and other measures to implement the International Code. ICDC would also serve as a training and publications unit. ICDC is registered as a Dutch Foundation.




ICDC, part of the global International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), operates from the IBFAN Penang office, based in Malaysia. ICDC advises the leading organisations in child health: UNICEF, WHO, and the global IBFAN network. As ICDC’s focus is on the implementation of the International Code, we keep track of Code implementation measures worldwide, and house the most complete collection of national legislation and other measures taken by countries to implement the Code. We also publish reports on Code implementation and compliance.  Other core activities include

  • analyse, compare, and evaluate the different measures, using the International Code as a yardstick
  • offer skills training in Code implementation and in effective monitoring of marketing practices
  • assist governments in drafting legislation.


Mission and Vision


ICDC envisions a world where mothers make infant feeding decisions free from commercial influence. When mothers are given the chance to breastfeed without competition from baby food industry promotions and marketing hype, they can make well-informed decisions.

ICDC works to stop the promotion of breastmilk substitutes by encouraging and supporting governments to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as law.  Our actions aim to

  • create an environment supportive of breastfeeding and “baby-friendly” initiatives
  • reduce infant deaths and illness caused by breastmilk substitutes

Senior Management

Annelies Allain – Director

Global advisor on Code monitoring and enforcement


Annelies Allain is an economist and a linguist but life decided she would get involved in health. In 1979, Annelies helped found IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network), which works for better child health and nutrition through the promotion of breastfeeding and the elimination of irresponsible marketing of infant foods, bottles and teats. For the past 35 years, Annelies has continued to build the IBFAN network.


She was closely involved with the drafting of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  She started the IBFAN Geneva office and helped to organise others. She set up the International Code Documentation Centre in Penang, Malaysia in 1991 and holds the position of Director.


Yeong Joo Kean, LLM

Legal advisor on Code legislation


Yeong Joo Kean is a Malaysian lawyer with a postgraduate degree from the University of London. She was in private practice for 11 years before joining IBFAN-ICDC in 1999. During her practising years, Joo Kean was awarded 2 Chevening Scholarships from the British High Commission to pursue her legal education in public interest work, an area she now actively pursues. Her work at ICDC has taken her out of the courtrooms into the international health arena where she trains government officials, policy makers and civil society organisations in Code implementation and Code monitoring at the international, regional and national levels.



IBFAN-ICDC offers a limited number of opportunities for interns and volunteers to gain practical experience in ICDC’s work. This year we were joined by two interns supporting us in various activities: Hacer Tanrikulu and Megan Bardsley.

Hacer is from Austria, and joined our team in February for initially two months, but stayed for six months in total. She was mainly involved in the research and writing of the latest global report Breaking the Rules 2017 (BTR). Hacer’s background in Public Health Nutrition was very useful.  She was also able to observe at close range ICDC-government interactions in Malaysia and Thailand.


Megan is from England, and joined our team in May with a background in epidemiology and global health. Similar to Hacer, she ended up staying longer than planned, and was involved in the research and writing of BTR 2017. She is currently continuing to work independently on updating our Code Essentials Series.

Depending on the needs and capacity of our office, we will be pleased to accept interns in the future. If you are interested in joining our team, please send your resumé and a statement of interest that outlines your work experience and career aspirations.

Qualified applicants will be contacted.


Awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1998



 The efforts of IBFAN have received global recognition. In 1998, IBFAN’s work—20 years of campaigning for mothers’ rights to  choose to breastfeed free from commercial  pressure—was recognized with the prestigious Right Livelihood Award. This alternative Nobel prize”, presented in the Swedish parliament, was given for IBFAN’s “vision and work contributing to making life more whole, healing our planet and uplifting humanity.” Visit rightlivelihood.org

The IBFAN Network


The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) works for better infant health and nutrition through the promotion of breastfeeding and the elimination of irresponsible marketing of infant foods, bottles and teats. Founded in 1979, it now comprises more that 270 breastfeeding interest groups worldwide who work to reduce infant and young child morbidity and mortality. Find out more about our partners at ibfan.org

Funding Policy


IBFAN-ICDC believes that commercial interests should never interfere with the public interest especially not with public health.  Therefore, IBFAN-ICDC does not accept funding from corporate enterprises


IBFAN and its member groups do not accept funding or have any commercial links with manufacturers or distributors of breast pumps as these present conflicts of interest, whether or not the marketing practices violate the International Code. IBFAN recognises that in some situations pumps are useful in order to provide breastmilk for infants and young children when mothers and babies are separated. For some mothers pumps are useful and we respect their decision to use them.


IBFAN has taken steps to ensure that its post holders have no commercial links to pump companies.

In May, 1981, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the International Code of Breastmilk Substitutes. ICDC works with governments to implement the Code as law.

ICDC is part of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). We work to reduce infant and young child morbidity and mortality through the protection and promotion of breastfeeding. Find out more about IBFAN

Educating government officials on the importance of protecting breastfeeding, and how the Code achieves this, is a major part of the process towards legislation.  Joo Kean, ICDC’s legal advisor, conducted Code advocacy and implementation training in Zimbabwe, March, 2013.

Monitoring manufacturers’ compliance with the Code is important. ICDC works with IBFAN partners and government agencies to build capacity of government officials in monitoring the Code. The above pictures taken in Laos in June 2014 show monitors learning how to analyze company materials, check product labeling and interview mothers in healthcare facilities.

“You’re disturbing me!” says this breastfeeding baby to a Code monitor.