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home > About Us > Reporting & Policies > Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct

All MWB personnel, volunteers, associates and guests are required to read this entire document
carefully, sign and return to Musicians Without Borders.


Musicians Without Borders (MWB) staff, trainers, volunteers, associates and guests understand that MWB works with people who have experienced the traumatic effects of current or recent conflict. MWB maintains zero tolerance for abuse, harassment and discrimination within its work and subscribes to equal and fair treatment for all individuals.

Our Code of Conduct provides the following guidance on what we expect of all individuals working on our behalf.

1. Respecting Local Culture and Values

 When traveling for MWB, please inform yourself of social customs regarding dress and appearance, contact (e.g. between men and women) in the public space as well as social rules around such things as courtesy, home visits, gift-giving, etc., and respect them. Please refer to your direct supervisor/program manager for guidance.

 Please do not ask questions, or start or join discussions about politics, religion, sex or personal relationships. These are usually the most volatile subjects and frequently extremely sensitive.

 Be sensitive to differences in material wealth – most of our projects take place in poor communities (don’t bring expensive electronic equipment with you, etc.)

 Do not inquire about people’s personal lives or histories, unless they themselves open the subject. Many people involved in our projects have painful histories and traumatic stories; respect their privacy to share these (or not to) on their own terms.

 Do not make any promises of future help or give anyone money; if you want to do something to support the local community or specific individuals, please refer to your supervisor/program manager.

2. Personal Behavior: Rock ‘n’ Roll allowed, sex and drugs are not!

Even though music can and should be fun, please remember that you are not on holiday or on your own time, but working in an MWB program. Therefore, please respect these rules:

 No use of drugs under any circumstances;

 Alcohol only where culturally appropriate, and where so, only in moderation- no drunkenness,
under any circumstances;

 No sexual activities with minors (under 18) or program participants;

 Behave modestly (e.g. no loud or raucous behavior).

3. Safeguarding Our Participants


 Treat participants with respect regardless of age, race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability or other status.

 Acknowledge the work of local partners and participants, and represent your own contribution honestly and modestly.

 Be aware of particular risks or vulnerabilities of participants and be aware of your position as someone with power or authority.

 Be aware of situations which may present risks (for example, being alone with participants, taking film/photo or interviewing for work purposes/reporting). You may only proceed if the situation is within the boundaries of this policy and after obtaining clearance from management and the participants.

 Plan and organize the work, workplace or visit to manage risks.

 As much as possible, be visible in working with or visiting participants.

 Foster and ensure a culture of openness to enable any issues or concerns to be raised and discussed.

 Ensure accountability amongst staff, trainers and volunteers to document and address poor practices or potentially abusive behavior.

 Talk to participants about their contact with staff and other participants, inform them about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior according to MWB policies and procedures and encourage them to raise any concerns.

 Report concerns or incidents of participant abuse to the designated persons and authorities. Please refer to the designated MWB program manager to clarify the reporting procedure.


 Do not develop physical or sexual relationships with participants. Do not behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate (for example, fondle, hold, hug, kiss or touch participants in a culturally insensitive way) or behave sexually. Do not sleep in the same room or bed as the participants.

 Do not act in ways that may be abusive, exploitative, physically or emotionally harmful or act in ways which places a participant at risk of this.

 Do not spend time alone with participants away from others including taking a participant away from the project alone or having meetings alone. If privacy is needed, other staff member(s) must be aware and a door must be left open.

 Do not condone, or participate in, behavior of participants which is illegal, unsafe or abusive.

 Do not use corporal punishment or otherwise physically assault participants.

 Do not act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade participants, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional abuse.

 Do not discriminate against, show unfounded differential treatment to, or favor particular participants.

 Do not let participants do domestic or other labor which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their education, or which places them at risk of injury.

 Do not allow a participant to be systematically neglected and do not fail to protect them from any harm that you are aware of.

 Do not abandon your professional distance by taking on a personal caring role such as by becoming a personal donor or a godparent.

4. Photographs & Video

 Do not take any photos, videos or audio recordings without the express permission of the program manager. You are however welcome to share any media that has already been shared on official MWB [or program partner] platforms.

 Do not make promises to the participant in return for photos/videos.

 Take images of participants that are dignified and respectful and that do not present them as victims, vulnerable or submissive.

 Ensure that images could not be interpreted as sexual or condone any other situation of abuse.

 Protect the safety and privacy of participants and their families by not using identifiable images in the media or internet, or using them in any way which reveals their location.

5. Representation

We are grateful for your participation in our work, however, please bear in mind that you are not authorized to speak on behalf of MWB unless given express permission by MWB’s director. Please refer press and other inquiries regarding MWB’s work to program managers, regional representatives or MWB’s director. When referencing your affiliation with MWB on social media and other public platforms, we ask you to convey a modest image (no references to sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and not make statements that endorse or denounce a particular culture, religion, or political orientation.

6. Anti-Corruption

It is MWB’s policy to conduct all of our work in an honest and accountable manner. We maintain zero-tolerance for bribery and corruption and are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity. As part of your role with MWB, you agree to protect the organization’s assets and resources and not use the organization’s equipment to view, download, create or distribute inappropriate material.

7. Sanctions & Complaints

Any breach of this Code of Conduct can result in one or more of the following actions taken by the relevant program manager, regional representatives or the director: a warning; an immediate termination of your stay at the project location; the withholding of part or all of any agreed-upon payments for your services; the decision by MWB not to employ or include you in its project work in the future; and, in the case of serious breaches, criminal prosecution. Any extra costs involved (e.g. earlier return flights, lodgings, etc.) will be your own responsibility and not covered by MWB.

If you suspect that a breach of this policy has occurred or may occur, you can lodge a complaint at any time to your direct supervisor/program manager or Laura Hassler, MWB Director (+31 (0) 20 330 5012 /[email protected]). Your report will be treated confidentially.