International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Declaration of Ethical Principles and Professional Integrity

The ICTMD Declaration of Ethical Principles offers a reference point for ICTMD members and for all who work with us and who encounter our work.


The International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance comprises members who research music, dance, and associated topics worldwide. These members disseminate their own research and that of others in various ways, including written publications, broadcasting, film, performance, composing, teaching, policy recommendations, applied work, exhibitions, and other forms of public outreach. ICTMD members are also active in less publicly visible roles, serving, such as peer reviewers, curriculum designers, examiners, members of job panels, and advisors to cultural or educational groups and organizations, locally, nationally, and internationally. Much of our work stems from collaboration and engagement with others, most commonly with dancers, singers, instrumentalists, students, and other musicians and researchers. We work with diverse kinds of state or public institutions, businesses, funding agencies, and with an ever-widening network of interlocutors. Addressing a wide variety of audiences, our work is carried out in a context where members of diverse groups are invested in the topics we research, teach, or disseminate. ICTMD members work in, between, and across many regions, countries, and social contexts. We must carefully consider various expectations and ethical aspects of our work.

All around the world, music and dance serve as rich and significant fora in which people explore and express their beliefs and values, hopes, emotions, and needs. As such, the study and dissemination of music and dance is inherently an ethical matter. Whether it occurs in settings close to home or far afield, our work presents opportunities to form new understandings that may challenge ideas and barriers related to age, gender, sexuality, ability, appearance, wealth, power, education, language, aesthetics, nationality, ethnicity, belonging, and diverse aspects of background and experience. Accordingly, ethically appropriate work from ICTMD members has the potential to contribute to building a fairer, more democratically interconnected world - a world that recognizes and respects human diversity, and is equitable, inclusive, just, and compassionate for all. Meanwhile, ethically inappropriate work risks causing harm to those who share their creative practices with us, or those with whom we share our work. Ethically inappropriate work endangers the potential for future scholarship and related contributions, as well as the standing of the ICTMD and our subject area more generally.

The ICTMD Declaration of Ethical Principles and Professional Integrity is intended to promote ongoing reflection and discussion regarding professional responsibilities that we collectively hold as ICTMD members, and the personal choices we face in our work. This may include, for example, situations where we accrue multiple obligations due to overlapping personal and professional statuses and roles, or when our work involves individuals, communities, audiences, and organizations that hold contrasting norms. The Declaration relates to but does not replace compliance with regulatory processes (e.g., “research ethics reviews”), which are specific to institution- and funding-related contexts and where national, regional, or culturally specific rules and norms may need to be adopted. 

ICTMD members recognize the following ethical principles:

a) We respect the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings 

We acknowledge the personhood, value, and dignity of all those with whom we work, irrespective of any perceived or real difference in social status, religious affiliation, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity, capacity, appearance, ability, background, or mechanisms of marginalization or discrimination. We extend this regard to people and communities, recognizing the contributions of past generations and the needs of peoples in the present and future. Our work should thus contribute to the establishment and sustenance of equality, justice, accessibility, and diversity, within a framework of respect for all. 

In many parts of the world, ethnic, religious, gender, caste, linguistic, racialized, minoritized, migrant, marginalized, and Indigenous communities face discrimination, displacement, and violence and are denied basic rights and freedoms. Through our research and writing, we advocate for the rights of oppressed individuals and communities. These include rights to maintain their cultural heritage, practice their own religion, speak their own language, and exercise their rights to represent themselves. In our work, we advance the rights of Indigenous peoples to keep and protect their ancestral lands and cultural sites, and their sacred and spiritual traditions, as well as practise and transmit their customs and ceremonies. Our studies acknowledge the rights and concerns of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit and more (LGBTQIA2S+) peoples to maintain their gender identities and sexual orientations and challenge  persecution and violence they may face. We support the work of those with disabilities and neurodiversities. We believe all people should have access to education and jobs. 

b) We acknowledge a duty of care for our fellow human beings and for the world in which we live

We are committed to working through mutual respect, care, and support for the benefit of those with whom we live and work through the creation of new knowledge and other means of direct action, engagement, and applications or transfer of knowledge. We strive to do no harm, and to design our research, teaching, and other activities to benefit those with whom we collaborate. Our duty of care for those with whom we work is privileged over demands or expectations of individuals or organizations outside their immediate context. We take responsibility for and hold ourselves accountable to act in an ethically appropriate manner in all aspects of our work. We also accept our responsibility for developing nuanced understandings of how ethical codes of conduct vary from one context to another and how this may impact our relationships with others, including our academic colleagues and students.

We recognize that relationships between people and their environs vary globally and that our duty of care may extend to other-than-human beings, including flora, fauna, and natural and built environments. In this spirit, we encourage scholarship and ethical conduct that promote knowledge about and positive action toward the health and wellbeing of our planet. We acknowledge that our professional activities can, and often do, have adverse environmental impacts, and we seek to reduce these impacts.

In situations of war, conflict, or environmental disasters, we support the rights to wellbeing of all people. We uphold the rights of the oppressed, including rights to self-determination and to safeguard their cultural heritage under threat. We support a safe, inclusive, and non-violent environment that fosters respectful intercultural and interreligious dialogues, as well as educational, cultural, and peace-building initiatives.

c) We agree to work with integrity

As a contribution to human knowledge and experience, our work requires us to assess and report situations with honesty, accuracy, and sensitivity. This includes being open and transparent about our interpretations of the world. We recognize our responsibility to teach and share approaches for ethical awareness and ethical practice with our students and we are committed to working with integrity, care, and respect in all spheres of professional practice, from peer-to-peer public exchanges between academic colleagues to our professional activities within both institutional and non-institutional contexts.

We acknowledge the rights of those with whom we work, including due recognition for their contributions to research, teaching, thinking, as well as privacy or confidentiality. We note that this applies to unpublished as well as published materials and data. At the same time, we recognize the complexity of intellectual property rights that are inherent in acts of creativity, and the challenges this may pose in terms of attribution and honouring diverse concepts of ownership in various international and intercultural legal and social contexts. We commit to making every effort to learning about and engaging in appropriate ethical actions to honour these rights. We accept responsibility for managing potential conflicts of interest ethically and undertake to adhere to a collective responsibility in sustaining the reputation of our respective research disciplines and the International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance. 

Established in July 2019; revised in December 2023.