Organization

About us

Musicians Without Borders is a leader in using music for social change. For over 20 years, we’ve worked with people and communities affected by war, conflict and displacement around the world.

We're music professionals and enthusiasts
who believe in the power of music to
connect. heal. bring comfort. bring relief. give hope. teach empathy. counteract violence. create identity. express dissent. raise unheard voices. transcend divisions. cross borders. protest injustice. imagine futures.

Musicians Without Borders started as a group of socially engaged musicians in the Netherlands, bringing music performances, workshops, and instruments to refugee camps. Nowadays, we’re active in Central America, East Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

A map of the world made with a grid of small grey dots. On it are markers in MWB's familiar blue. They point to the following countries: The Netherlands, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Germany, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine, Jordan, Rwanda and El Salvador. The map shows where in the world Musicians Without Borders is active.

Musicians Without Borders’ philosophy and vision are based on three principles. We refer to these fundamental principles in guiding our vision, strategy, ethical choices, and organizational culture:

  • The power of music,
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
  • The principles of nonviolence.

The power of music

As musicians, we have all experienced music’s power: in the creation of music with fellow musicians, the opening of new worlds through teaching and learning music, the shared connection of enjoying music together. Music, like language, is a common, shared human capacity, and can strengthen empathy, help to heal and connect, encourage, empower, and bring joy: all essential to building just and peaceful societies.  From rock ‘n’ roll to classical, from rap to jazz to body percussion, Musicians Without Borders works through the power of music for peacebuilding and social change.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This declaration was conceived and ratified by a global community of nations united by the desire to avert the tragedy of war and to hold all nations to shared standards to protect all human beings equally. As the world’s primary international agreement on human rights, the Declaration is the gold standard of principles of equality and dignity for all human beings.

The principles of nonviolence

Practitioners, leaders, and scholars of nonviolence have defined it in different ways. Common to all are core principles such as:

  • do no harm,
  • treat all with respect,
  • oppose unjust behavior, not people,
  • means and ends must be consistent,
  • justice is at the heart of true peace.

How we work

We collaborate with local partners, communities and individuals to create sustainable and locally-owned programs. We believe this long term approach is most effective for achieving lasting social change.

Our programs are demand-driven: we adapt our methodologies to the local context with help from the community. Our programs are rooted in the community, and accessible to and relatable for participants.

Important dates

1999
Founding of Musicians Without Borders

2003
Launch of Music Bus Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

2008
Launch of Mitrovica Rock School (Kosovo) and Palestine Community Music

2011
Launch of Mostar Rock School (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

2012
Launch of Rwanda Youth Music

2013
Launch of From Woman to Woman (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

2014
Launch of Music Bridge (Northern Ireland)
Launch of Tanzania Youth Music

2015
Launch of Community Music for Community Health (Uganda)
Start offering music leadership training (the Netherlands)

2016
Launch of Welcome Notes (Europe)

2017
Co-founding of art27 (global)
Launch of Soy Música (El Salvador)
Start partnership with Armonia Cuscatleca (El Salvador)

2018
Launch of Music Connects (Kosovo and North-Macedonia)

2021
Launch of al-Musiqa Tajm’ana (Jordan)
Launch of Bara’em Ghirass (Palestine)