World Music


World Music Charter 

The first ver­sion of the World Music Char­ter was draft­ed fol­low­ing meet­ings of a work­ing group set up by Zone Franche in 1999, and was adopt­ed by the Gen­er­al Assem­bly of Zone Franche — the world music net­work, meet­ing in Paris on May 14, 2001. 

This new ver­sion was adopt­ed at the Annu­al Gen­er­al Meet­ing held in Paris on Sep­tem­ber 29, 2020.


80% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lis­tens to their own music, i.e. world music. For sev­er­al decades now, world music has trav­elled the globe, win­ning over exoge­nous audi­ences. Marked by glob­al­iza­tion, whether rur­al or urban, they com­bine the her­itage of the past with the promise of the future. Over time and space, these musics have cre­olized, cre­at­ing new idioms that car­ry mean­ing, like jazz, reg­gae, tan­go, rebetiko, hip-hop and more. They are musi­cal sources from which con­tem­po­rary cre­ators draw.

Whether “learned” or pop­u­lar, eth­nic or mixed, sacred or sec­u­lar, oral or writ­ten, per­formed by pro­fes­sion­al or ama­teur musi­cians, they all help lis­ten­ers find their place in the world. As such, they help to give mean­ing to glob­al cit­i­zen­ship, and play an emi­nent role in under­stand­ing the Oth­er, and in the fight against racism, xeno­pho­bia, sex­ism and intol­er­ance.

The pur­pose of this Char­ter is to fed­er­ate and con­sol­i­date the indus­try of pro­fes­sion­als who, through their work, con­tribute to the study, cre­ation, pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion and trans­mis­sion of world music.

Het­ero­ge­neous in terms of the diver­si­ty of its pro­fes­sions, legal struc­tures and pro­fes­sion­al con­texts, the world music indus­try is unit­ed around the val­ues and prin­ci­ples set out in this char­ter.

The sig­na­to­ries of this Char­ter under­take to abide by eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples and pro­fes­sion­al oper­at­ing rules, what­ev­er the coun­try in which they are involved. They under­take to har­mo­nize and devel­op their leg­is­la­tion in order to move towards equiv­a­lent arrange­ments.

In this spir­it, the present Char­ter advo­cates the free cir­cu­la­tion of artists, a min­i­mum con­di­tion for the devel­op­ment of inter-cul­tur­al dia­logue.

This Char­ter can be signed by all pro­fes­sion­als who pro­duce, dis­trib­ute and pro­mote world music, whether on stage, on record, on radio, in the audio­vi­su­al, mul­ti­me­dia or Inter­net sec­tors.

Ini­ti­at­ed in 1999 by Zone Franche, the world music net­work, it is a con­di­tion of mem­ber­ship of the asso­ci­a­tion, and can be tak­en up by all pro­fes­sion­als and artists who rec­og­nize them­selves in it and adopt its prin­ci­ples.

I / Promoting Conventions
UNESCO 2003 and 2005.

Cultural diversity

World music, often her­itage-based, con­veys val­ues, cos­mogo­nies, col­lec­tive mem­o­ries and play­ing prin­ci­ples. They are inter­preters of cul­tur­al enti­ties.

Cul­tur­al diver­si­ty is one of the cor­ner­stones of our fed­er­a­tion’s DNA. UNESCO con­ven­tions rec­og­nize the fun­da­men­tal nature of the right to par­tic­i­pate in and enjoy this diver­si­ty.

The sig­na­to­ries of the present Char­ter are com­mit­ted to the UNESCO Con­ven­tions on the Safe­guard­ing of the Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage (2003) and on the Pro­tec­tion and Pro­mo­tion of the Diver­si­ty of Cul­tur­al Expres­sions (2005) respec­tive­ly.

These prin­ci­ples of open­ness to the world’s oth­er cul­tures are reflect­ed by the Char­ter’s sig­na­to­ries in their pro­fes­sion­al and artis­tic com­mit­ments and activ­i­ties, whose aims are not lim­it­ed to eco­nom­ic and com­mer­cial val­ues alone.

Citizenship and cultural rights

The sig­na­to­ries of this Char­ter con­tribute to pro­mot­ing world music as a source of iden­ti­ty, val­ues and mean­ing. As vec­tors of open­ness and cit­i­zen­ship edu­ca­tion, they cre­ate inter­cul­tur­al and inter­gen­er­a­tional social links. The exchanges and oth­er­ness they engen­der pro­mote a human­ism based on equal recog­ni­tion of cul­tur­al her­itages. They sketch out a pol­i­cy of exchange with­in the frame­work of a future vision of the plan­et that aims to be respect­ful of human com­mu­ni­ties and nature, social and unit­ed.

II / Support for artists and cultural players

# Support for artists and creation

The sig­na­to­ries of the Char­ter under­take to wel­come artists with­out any dis­crim­i­na­tion of ori­gin, age or reli­gion. Their actions are in strict com­pli­ance with the nation­al leg­is­la­tion to which they are sub­ject, and more broad­ly, with the prin­ci­ples set out in the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights.

They pro­mote the expo­sure of “minor­i­ty” cul­tures that are insuf­fi­cient­ly known to the pub­lic.

They sup­port artis­tic cre­ation, and the renew­al of forms and lan­guages, by encour­ag­ing artists to cre­ate new works.

They are also atten­tive to the emer­gence of young artists.

Per­form­ing arts are par­tic­u­lar­ly con­ducive to links between mul­ti­ple lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al areas, and are there­fore a major focus of the Char­ter’s sig­na­to­ries.

# Equality between women and men

The sig­na­to­ries of the Char­ter are com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing real equal­i­ty between women and men :

by help­ing to increase the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women on stage (musi­cians, tech­ni­cians) in order to achieve par­i­ty,
tak­ing into account pro­fes­sion­al equal­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly in posi­tions of respon­si­bil­i­ty (board of direc­tors, man­age­ment, pro­gram­ming, etc.),
and by not tol­er­at­ing any form of sex­ism, dis­crim­i­na­tion or vio­lence of a sex­u­al or gen­der-based nature.
The sig­na­to­ries are com­mit­ted to respect­ing and pro­mot­ing indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty.

III / Developing international trade

Artists on the move

Migra­tion and cir­cu­la­tion are fun­da­men­tal ele­ments of glob­al­iza­tion, and their pos­i­tive effects should be pro­mot­ed, in par­tic­u­lar through cul­tur­al exchanges.

The sig­na­to­ries of the Char­ter are com­mit­ted to glob­al cit­i­zen­ship.

Artists are ambas­sadors of this cit­i­zen­ship, and as such, bar­ri­ers to their mobil­i­ty must be removed.

In par­tic­u­lar, the sig­na­to­ries of the Char­ter would like to see a change in exist­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions, espe­cial­ly those that are restric­tive, con­strain­ing and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, to allow artists greater free­dom of move­ment and instal­la­tion in the coun­try or coun­tries of their choice.

They bring togeth­er their exper­tise and advo­ca­cy with­in pro­fes­sion­al bod­ies such as the Comité Visa Artistes, cre­at­ed in 2009 and led by Zone Franche.

Fair trade

Aware of glob­al eco­nom­ic imbal­ances, the Char­ter sig­na­to­ries are par­tic­u­lar­ly vig­i­lant with regard to artists and their pro­duc­ers from low-income coun­tries, and are work­ing to sta­bi­lize fair trade, par­tic­u­lar­ly in North-South coop­er­a­tion.


The sig­na­to­ries of the Char­ter see La Fran­coph­o­nie as a space for civ­il soci­ety coop­er­a­tion, an essen­tial and com­ple­men­tary play­er in cul­tur­al diplo­ma­cy.

French is a priv­i­leged lan­guage of exchange (cul­tur­al, eco­nom­ic, pro­fes­sion­al), and not the lan­guage of artis­tic expres­sion, par­tic­u­lar­ly music. Today, the French-speak­ing world is insep­a­ra­ble from an extra­or­di­nary lin­guis­tic and artis­tic diver­si­ty. French play­ers see them­selves as co-ten­ants of La Fran­coph­o­nie, not own­ers.

The free move­ment of peo­ple is a pre­req­ui­site for the cohe­sion of this inter­na­tion­al cul­tur­al area.

To this end, the sig­na­to­ries are work­ing to devel­op spaces and oppor­tu­ni­ties for artis­tic and pro­fes­sion­al encoun­ters.

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