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 (ICTMD) comprises members who research music, dance, and associated topics worldwide and who disseminate their own research and that of others in various ways, including via written publications, broadcasting, film, performance, composing, teaching, policy recommendations, applied work, exhibitions, and further forms of public outreach. ICTMD members are also active in less publicly visible roles, serving, for instance, 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 obviously with dancers, singers, instrumentalists, students, and other musicians and researchers, but also with diverse kinds of state or public institutions, businesses, and funding agencies. Addressing broad and specific audiences, our work occurs in a context where members of numerous social groupings hold active interest in the topics we research, teach, or disseminate. ICTMD members work in, between, and across many regions, countries, and social contexts, and so we face a variety of specific expectations and ethics in our work.

All around the world, music and dance are 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 inevitably and inherently an ethical matter. Whether it occurs in settings close to home or far afield, our work presents opportunities to form new personal and societal understandings that challenge perceived divisions based on gaps in terms of age, gender, wealth, power, education, aesthetics, nationality, race, etc.. Accordingly, ethically appropriate work from ICTMD members has the potential to contribute to the building of a fairer, more democratically interconnected world in which human diversity is recognized and respected. Ethically inappropriate work, meanwhile, risks causing harm to those who share their creative practices with us, work alongside us or to whom we direct our work. Prospects for future scholarship may be endangered through ethically inappropriate work, in turn potentially damaging not just our own reputations but also 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 on the professional responsibilities we hold collectively as ICTMD members and on the personal choices we face in our work. It relates to, but is distinct from, the issue of compliance with regulatory processes—often referred to as Ethics Review—as found in many institutional and research funding-related contexts, and where national, regional, or culturally specific rules and norms may need to be adopted. The Declaration’s guidance on fundamental principles does not replace the need for ICTMD members to make ethically appropriate decisions in various contexts, such as when they simultaneously 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.

ICTMD members recognize the following ethical principles:

a) We respect the worth and inherent 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, or other such characteristic. We extend this regard to human groups and societies, recognizing the contributions to human civilization made by peoples of past generations and the needs of peoples in the present and future. Our work should thus contribute to the sustaining or establishment of equality, justice, and diversity, within a framework of respect for all. 

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

Our work with others and the potential impact of our work upon others requires us to work for the benefit of those around us through the creation of new knowledge as well as by means of direct action, engagement, and the application of knowledge. We strive not only to do no harm, but additionally to design our research, teaching, and other activities to bring benefit to those who collaborate with us directly in the study, research, and dissemination of music and dance and associated scholarship. We recognize that our duty of care for those with whom we work most directly is privileged over and above demands or expectations emerging from individuals or organizations outside that immediate context. We take responsibility for acting in an ethically appropriate manner in all our professional work. We also accept an active responsibility for developing a nuanced understanding of how ethical codes of conduct vary from one context to another and how this impacts our relationships with others, including our academic colleagues and students.

We recognize that cultural relationships between humans and their environs vary globally and that our duty of care, in some cases, must explicitly be extended to the flora, fauna, and the natural and built environments. In this spirit we encourage scholarship and ethical conduct which promote knowledge about and positive action toward planetary wellbeing. We acknowledge that our professional activities can, and often do, have adverse environmental impacts, and seek to reduce those wherever reasonably possible.

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 how we build our interpretations of the world, which includes the ethical considerations we have taken into account in any case. We explicitly recognize our responsibility to teach and share approaches to developing an ethical awareness among our students and are committed to working with integrity in all spheres of academic practice.

We acknowledge the rights of those with whom we work, whether for due recognition for their contributions to our research, teaching, and thinking or for privacy or confidentiality where more appropriate. We note that this applies to unpublished materials and data as much as to the content of published works, simultaneously recognizing the intellectual property rights that inhere in acts of creativity and the challenges this poses in terms of attribution and concepts of ownership in various international and intercultural legal and social contexts.

We accept responsibility for managing any potential conflicts of interest ethically, without bias or exploitation, and undertake to adhere to a sense of collective responsibility in sustaining the reputation of our respective research disciplines and the International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance