Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat: January 2017 Funding Update
The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (“Secretariat”), a funding mechanism jointly funded by Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway, funds multiple non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel. Some NGOs have promoted antisemitic rhetoric and have apparent links to terrorist organizations.
Since November 2016, a number of funding changes have been made by the donor countries:
On November 21, the Secretariat released its quarterly newsletter. The emblem of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which had appeared on previous Secretariat publications, was no longer on its letterhead. According to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs grants portal, Norway had committed NOK 5 million (approximately $600,000) to the Secretariat. This initial funding, first reflected in the Secretariat’s July 2016 newsletter, was supposed to have been distributed in 2016 and 2017. In January 2017, the grants portal of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs adjusted its grant to the Secretariat, reflecting that all funds had been transferred in 2016. No further Norwegian funding appears to be allocated to the Secretariat.
In response to the Secretariat’s claim that NGO grantees were suffering from a nearly $3 million gap in funding, Sweden contributed an additional $1 million to “be used exclusively for the topping up of existing core grants.” The extra core funding was distributed to 11 NGOs, each receiving between $30,000 and $160,000. No information regarding how the amounts were allocated has been revealed by the Secretariat or the individual donor countries. This additional funding from Sweden cannot be independently verified from publically available Swedish governmental funding information.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has increased its allocation to Secretariat. The initial Swiss contribution to the Secretariat was CHF 3.6 million between December 2013 and September 2017. The Swiss government has added an additional CHF 1.3 million that will carry through until June 2018. No information regarding the decision making process of this grant was made public by the Swiss government.
Furthermore, the Swiss government recently denied requests from a concerned Swiss citizen and NGO Monitor to provide public information about Swiss funding to the Secretariat. The government’s response claimed that, “access to official documents is likely to affect the interests of Switzerland in matters of foreign policy and international relations.”
NGO Monitor has submitted an appeal to this withholding of documentation.