Making NGOs AccountableAdvanced Search





See NGO Monitor’s report on Swiss Government Funding, NGOs, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (published May 10, 2015).

  • The Swiss government provides millions of Swiss francs annually – through direct and indirect funding processes at the federal, cantonal, and municipal level – to highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Switzerland, Europe, US, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
  • Grants are provided to NGOs that demonize Israel and support BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). These NGOs have no competence or experience in the areas for which they are officially funded, such as promotion of peace or the development of democratic and economic norms.
  • Funding for these NGOs often lacks transparency. NGO Monitor research has identified several government grants that have not been reported on Swiss government websites.
  • NGOs receive Swiss federal funding through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and three large church-based organizations – Diakonia (a Swedish NGO), HEKS, and Caritas Switzerland. NGOs also receive funding through development projects sponsored by the Geneva Canton and Geneva Municipality.
  • In April 2016, Swiss MP Christian Imark submitted a motion signed by 41 MPs (out of 200 members of parliament) demanding that the government adjust funding regulations so that Swiss taxpayer money would not be directly or indirectly distributed as aid to “racist and anti-Semitic” groups or those involved in BDS campaigns and hatespeech. MP Imark also submitted two written questions, regarding Secretariat activities as well as general Swiss funding to NGOs, to the Swiss Parliament.

Direct Funding

Swiss Aid for Development and Cooperation

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law International Secretariat

  • Together with Denmark, Sweden, and the NetherlandsSwitzerland funds Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). This funding mechanism has a projected budget of $17.6 million over four years, including $13 million for NGOs. The funds are managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) and a European multidisciplinary consulting company, NIRAS.
  • In February 2014, IoL-BZU published a 15-page report, “Advocating for Palestinian Rights in conformity with International Law: Guidelines” (English and Arabic). This document is a strategic manual for exploiting legal terms and rhetoric to demonize and isolate Israel internationally (“lawfare”), as well as to emphasize that Israel regardless of its borders is among “racist regimes which are absolutely prohibited in their entirety.” This report was posted prominently on the Human Rights Secretariat Facebook page.
  • Through the Secretariat, Swiss funds are redirected to several politicized NGOs, such as Badil, which promotes “resistance” and “martyr” rhetoric, and promotes anti-peace initiatives and a “one-state” framework. The organization also promotes the Palestinian “right of return” and leads international BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns, by also engaging in blatant antisemitic activities. In 2010, Badil signed a document explicitly rejecting the Roadmap for Peace and the Arab Peace Initiative, in sharp contradiction to the goals and policies of its government sponsors. Badil also sponsors annual “right of return contests” in which it has published antisemitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery denying Israel’s right to exist. After the antisemitic cartoons were revealed by NGO Monitor in 2010, the Swiss government announced a funding freeze for this NGO; it appears that funding has been renewed.
  • The Secretariat funds Al-Haq and Addameer, both of which have alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, Canada and Israel.
  • In August 2014, The Secretariat announced “emergency funding” to nine Israeli and Palestinian NGOs to “document the violations by all parties of human rights and international humanitarian law arising from the armed conflict.” Switzerland donated CHF 100,000 to this fund. All nine of these NGOs (Al-Dameer, B’Tselem, Badil, Breaking the Silence, DCI-Palestine, Al Mezan, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Women’s Affairs Center, Women’s Affairs Technical Committee) have extensively accused Israel of unsubstantiated “war crimes,” while disregarding clear Hamas human rights violations. In addition, some of these NGOs played a pivotal role in providing dubious and inaccurate statements to the discredited 2009 UN Goldstone.
  • In September 2014, the Secretariat approved project funding for the period of September 2014 to August 2015. Over $1.2 million was authorized for 20 NGOs, many of which accuse Israel of “de-Palestinization,” “apartheid,” “colonization,” “collective punishment,” “forced displacement,” violations of “cultural and religious rights,” “repression,” “restricting movement,” “water theft,” and a “ghettoization project,” as well as support BDS campaigns and agendas. Funding was directed also to the “Stop the Wall Campaign,” a leader of international BDS against Israel, for an overtly political project “To contribute to a situation of accountability and respect for human rights by all duty bearers by creating mechanisms to implement the ICJ decision related to the separation Wall.”

Indirect Funding



Caritas Switzerland

All Articles about Switzerland

Further Reading