Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat: Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands
In December 2017, the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat ceased support and funding for NGOs. In June 2018, the Secretariat presented its final report and ended its activities. As of August 2018, the Secretariat website is no longer functional. For more information on the Secretariat, read NGO Monitor’s report “Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat: Abusing Public Funds to Perpetuate Conflict.”
Click here for recent activities of NGOs receiving core funding from the IHL Secretariat, May 2017.
- Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway1 jointly fund Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat”). The funds are managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) and NIRAS, a European consulting company.2 Officially, the donor countries are responsible for “deciding on the general framework and policy for the HR/IHL Secretariat" and approving the program and specific grants.
- Some of the organizations receiving Secretariat funding promote antisemitic rhetoric and have reported links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- On December 22, 2017, following a review of its support for Palestinian NGOs, the Danish foreign ministry announced that it would cease funding to the Secretariat, stating that the “majority of Danish aid to the organizations, which was suspended in 2017, will not be paid. The ministry also confirmed that that donor cooperation will end at the end of the year ."
- On June 30, 2017, in correspondence with NGO Monitor, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that, “in cooperation with the other donor countries of the Secretariat, the Netherlands has decided to suspend cooperation with WATC until further notice."
- On August 21, 2017, the Swiss Government confirmed that the Secretariat is suspending funding to WATC.
- According to the Secretariat’s website, the “overall objective of the programme” is to “contribute to the effective realization of adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to influence the behavior of the relevant duty bearers, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the governing bodies/ authorities in Gaza.”
- The organization claims to work “with and supports Palestinian and Israeli human rights (HR) civil society organizations (CSOs) active in the oPt, within the general parameters and context of ending the Israeli occupation of the oPt, and establishing an independent, democratic Palestinian state in which human rights are respected.”
- Original 3-year budget of $17.6 million (2014-2016). Current budget appears to be approximately $19.1 million.
- $11.5 million- core grants to NGOs
- $2.6 million- project grants
- $4.6 million- administrative and program expenses
- In 2016, the Secretariat received an additional $1 million from Sweden for core funding.
- In 2016, Norway distributed approximately $600,000 to the Secretariat. It is unclear how this funding was used.
- The Secretariat provides “core-funding” grants for three years to select prequalified organizations, with limited restrictions, to support the general budgets of organizations and their overall operations. A total of 24 highly politicized Israeli and Palestinian NGOs active in the Arab Israeli conflict were chosen. (See table below for complete list). Additional “project funding” grants totals 20 percent of the budget, and an unknown amount of “emergency funding" was announced in 2014, largely going to the same NGOs that receive core grants.
- 15out of 24 Core fund recipients support BDS- $7.28 million
- 11 out of 20 project fund recipients support BDS
- Contribution by country:
- Sweden: $9.1 million
- Netherlands: €3.1 million
- Switzerland: CHF 4.75 million
- Denmark: $5.7 million; $8.35 million (2017-2020) (Frozen as of June 2, 2017 pending review by Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)
- Norway (2016): NOK 5 million (~$600,000)
Political Activity and antisemitism
- Funds highly politicized NGOs that engage in legal warfare against Israeli officials and companies that do business with Israel, promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, advance a “1948 agenda,” exploit the false “apartheid” analogy to demonize Israel and even promote antisemitic propaganda. These activities violate the IHRA Working Definitions of Anti-Semitism and definitions of the European Parliamentary Group on anti-semitism.
- Following the 2014 Gaza war, the Secretariat funded a video, produced by the Ma’an Network, which consisted primarily of anti-Israeli incitement. The video portrays Israel as the sole perpetrator of violent attacks, while omitting the numerous Hamas war crimes against Israeli civilians and intra-Palestinian human rights violations.
- At the 2014 Launch Event, Secretariat Manager Mustafa Mari “…highlight[ed] the difficulties faced by the Palestinian people and the need for supporting the human rights and international humanitarian law CSO sector, while reminding the audience of the apartheid-like realities that duty- bearers must address” (emphasis added). In a different IoL-BZU event, Mari referred to Israel’s “colonial policy that dated back at least to the 1930s" and the “need for legal frameworks which make the occupation illegal, criminalize Israeli practices, and support unification of Palestine and Palestinians." Mari previously worked at Al Haq, a leader in legal warfare against Israel and a Secretariat funding recipient (see below).
- The location of the Secretariat within Bir Zeit University (BZU) is in itself a reflection of these aspects. In February 2014, IoL-BZU published, “Advocating for Palestinian Rights in conformity with International Law: Guidelines” (English and Arabic). This document is a strategic manual for promoting “lawfare,” declaring that “racist regimes which are absolutely prohibited in their entirety.” This report was posted prominently on the Secretariat Facebook page. According to Cherif Bassiouni, international legal expert and one of the founders of the International Criminal Court, Birzeit University invited Bassiouni to speak, but withdrew the invitation after learning that he was also scheduled to speak at Israeli universities in May 2015.
NGOs funded through the Secretariat:
- BADIL (Secretariat funding $370,000) Founded to promote a Palestinian “right of return” and a leader of international BDS campaigns. BADIL holds annual “right of return contests” and has published antisemitic cartoons on its website, as well as imagery promoting the elimination of Israel, which is a widely recognized form of antisemitism. A cartoon that won a monetary prize for 2nd prize in BADIL’s 2010 Al-Awda Nakba caricature competition is a blatant representation of classic antisemitic tropes, including a Jewish man, garbed in traditional Hasidic attire, with a hooked nose and side locks. He stands above a dead child and skulls, holding a pitchfork dripping with blood.
- Al Haq (Secretariat funding: $710,000, approved for an additional $160,000 in 2016) frequently submits briefings and “testimony” to the ICC; seeks to sabotage the Israeli court system by “flooding the [Israeli Supreme] Court with petitions in the hope of obstructing its functioning and resources.” Al Haq’s General Director, Shawan Jabarin, has alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization and as such has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan. Click here to see NGO Monitor’s translation of the ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice (June 20, 2007). The PFLP is a designated terrorist organization by the EU (see below).
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) (Secretariat funding: $710,000) is another a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” movement, has tried to have Israelis arrested in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and New Zealand. The group has filed for punitive damages against Israeli officials and companies doing business with Israel in the US. All of PCHR’s cases have been dismissed in the preliminary stages. PCHR regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and the “Judaization of Jerusalem.” Raji Sourani, founder and director of the PCHR, was “prohibited from leaving Palestine (sic) from 1977 to 1990.” According to a 1995 article in the Washington Report, Sourani served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…”
- Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) (Secretariat funding: $710,000) accuses Israel of “collective punishment,” “human rights violations,” “women’s rights violations,” and seeking “to “suppress resistance” by “targeting civil society in order to obtain land and continue to undermine the economic stability, the growth and the development of Palestinian society.”
- Manal Tamimi, an employee of WCLAC, frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. In September 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.” In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel ,i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kill all these zionist settlers everywhere.” On December 8, 2016 she similarly tweeted that “we will keep resisting until the last Zionist either got killed or leave Palestine.”
- Stop the Wall (Secretariat Project funding $65,000 via Palestinian Farmers Union) Also a leader of the international BDS campaign that received a grant 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 ICJ decisions related to the separation Wall.” Stop the Wall claims that “The Wall is an integral part of the Zionist project to remove Palestinians from Palestine,” and considers “The Wall to be an integral part of the racist ambitions of Zionism” and “Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid” policies. Salah Khawaja, a “leader” with Stop the Wall was “an active member of the PFLP.” He was arrested by Israeli security forces seven times between 1983 and 1992 and served five years in prison between 1992 and 1997. Khawaja was arrested again on October 26, 2016 and as of November 13, 2016 is still being held.
- Additional and unspecified amounts of “emergency funding” (August 2014) provided to nine NGOs was designated for use in documenting “large scale violations of human rights and international humanitarian law – the majority against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects” in Gaza. With this additional funding, the Secretariat declared its actions to support “current and future documentation and investigation efforts by CSOs [civil society organizations] for the purposes of assisting and supporting national and international mechanisms” such as the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation and the campaign to open cases against Israelis in the ICC.
Funded NGOs with PFLP terror connections:
- Al Haq –The Israeli Supreme Court has identified Al Haq’s general director Shawan Jabarin as “among the senior activists of the Popular Front terrorist organization.” The PFLP is a designated terrorist organization by the EU.
- Addameer (Secretariat funding: $325,000) appears to have close connections to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization (see above). Addameer’s chairperson and co-founder, Abdullatif Ghaith, was banned by Israel from travelling internationally because of his alleged membership in PFLP.
- Defense for the Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) (Secretariat funding $738,000) Several DCI-P board members have apparent ties to the PFLP. Mahmoud Jiddah, reportedly a “PFLP member,” was imprisoned by Israel for 17 years for carrying out “grenade attacks” against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem in 1968. Hassan Abed Aljawad is similarly described as a Bethlehem-based “PFLP activist,” or “leader,” representing the PFLP at public events.
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) (Secretariat funding: $710,000) Raji Sourani, founder and director of the PCHR, was “prohibited from leaving Palestine (sic) from 1977 to 1990.” In an interview, Sourani admitted that he served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…” Sourani was imprisoned an additional three times “in 1985 and 1986…” and held in administrative detention in 1988. From 1986 to 1987 he was “restricted from legal work for one year by an Israeli military decision issued by the Israeli Military Governor.” He was also denied a US entry visa and was thus unable to travel to participate in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) in 20123. In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring Sourani for winning the “Alternative Noble Prize.” Dr. Rabah Muhana (see UHWC above), a member of the PFLP Political Bureau, delivered a speech at the prize ceremony.
- Stop the Wall (Secretariat Project funding $65,000 via Palestinian Farmers Union) Salah Khawaja, a “leader” with Stop the Wall was “an active member of the PFLP.” He was arrested by Israeli security forces seven times between 1983 and 1992 and served five years in prison between 1992 and 1997. Khawaja was arrested again on October 26, 2016 and as of November 13, 2016 is still being held.
The financial report of the Secretariat reflects uniquely high NGO administration expenses and salaries amounting to $3.8 million- approximately one-quarter of the total budget.
Secretariat Core Funding Recipients (2014-2017)
|Breaking the Silence||$611,700|
|Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP)||$1,104,700|
|Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center inPalestine (DWRC)||$471,700|
|Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)||$1,121,700|
|Palestinian Working Women Society forDevelopment||$793,700|
|Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)||$521,700|
|Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)||$572,700|
|The Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center (JLAC)||$611,700|
|Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC)||$674,000|
|Women Studies Center||$561,700|
|Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)||$1,301,700|
|Women’s Affairs Center||$861,700|
Project Funding Recipients (2015-2016)
|NGO||Project Title||2015 project funding||2014 project funding|
|PalVision||Hakakom: your right||$85,320|
|Ir Amim||Advancing basic human rights in East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Wall||$40,000|
|Arab Thought Forum||Improved community based monitoring, documentation and reporting of human rights violations in East Jerusalem||$97,500|
|Sawa Organization||Toward a life of dignity for Palestinian minors||$70,000|
|Independent Youth Forum||Harnessing Palestinian capacity to claim and advocate for their rights, through video evidence in East Jerusalem||$30,821|
|Al-Maqdese for Society Development||Empowering Palestinian citizens to fully obtain theirrights in light of the grave Israeli violations||$70,000|
|The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)||Safeguarding human rights of Palestinians living under Occupation||$50,000|
|Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ)||Revisiting international law on population transfer: a project promoting accountability for settler implantation and forcible displacement of Palestinians||$50,000||$50,000|
|Palestinian Counseling Center||Strengthening child protection in East Jerusalem||$100,000|
|WAC MAAN||Defending the rights of jobless and workers in East Jerusalem and Area C||$70,000|
|Jerusalem Center for Women||Hotline for children and their families||$50,000|
|Jerusalem Network for Community Advocacy||Partnership for protection: empowering Palestinian residents of Occupied East Jerusalem||$69,457|
|Emek Shaveh||Jerusalem land and heritage rights||$50,000|
|THE JAHALIN ASSOCIATION [NABI SAMWEL] ("TJA")||Developing Palestinian Bedouin Jahalin Resilience||$32,484|
|Land Research center||Protecting Palestinian's housing and land rights in Area 'C'||$70,000|
|The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation- PYALARA||Hands in hands against settlers violence||$98,958|
|Hurryyat||Against torture in the Palestinian territories- The Palestinian accession to the International Convention Against Torture||$60,000||$50,000|
|Torture Rehabilitation Center||Strengthening the resiliency of marginalized communities affected by settlers or/and Israeli forces violence in Hebron||$50,000|
|Social Developmental Forum- SDF||Improve the local response of the right to work and the right of access for people with disabilities in Gaza Strip||$86,652|
|Society Voice Foundation||Advocacy for displaced families and demolished houses in the Gaza Strip||$94,325|
Project Funding Recipients (2014)
|Al-Quds Human Rights Clinic||$25,000||Upgrading the capacity of the Human Rights Clinic, to be more independent in teaching and supervising documentation of human rights violations in Jerusalem.|
|The Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (CCPRJ)||$50,000||To empower Palestinian civil society stakeholders in education in occupied East Jerusalem, including parents, students, school teachers and administrators, to play an effective role in combating De-Palestinization and protecting and promoting Palestinian culture and identity in East Jerusalem education.|
|Community Media Center||$65,000||To contribute to promoting and protecting youth rights in the Gaza Strip through developing youth capacity in using media and social media in advocating for and protecting their rights and developing community awareness and a culture that respects human rights.|
|Centre for Women's Legal Research & Consulting||$45,000||To contribute to promoting women's rights and gender equality in the Gaza Strip based on IHRL and IHL.|
|Hurryyat||$50,000||To strengthen the culture of respect for HR and IHL towards a torture-free Palestinian society, enhanced by the rule of law.|
|Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies- Birzeit University||$70,000||To improve political processes that underpin human rights, in particular representation, in the refugee camps of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.|
|Kav LaOved||$60,000||To uphold Israeli labor law and protect and promote the rights of Palestinian workers employed by Israelis in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.|
|Land Research Center||$72,000||To provide technical and legal support to victims of land confiscation and house demolition in five villages in the Hebron governorate to access the Israeli justice system.|
|Ma'an Development Center||$68,211||To empower 140 young community leaders in the Gaza Strip to mainstream HR and IHL into their social actions and influence duty bearers to fulfill their obligations towards the rights- holders through addressing and advocating for specific human rights violations in policy dialogue.|
|Ma'an Network||$56,000||To establish a Palestinian culture that demands government accountability for and protection from human rights abuses, through raising awareness of citizens' legal rights and establishing a channel through which the public can demand transparent investigations into human rights violations and the systematic reform of government institutions abusing human rights.|
|Musawa- The Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession||$45,000||The project adopts a holistic approach in working towards a justice section of the Palestinian constitution based on HR/IHL and societal consensus.|
|Muwatin- The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy||$80,000||To empower citizens to excersize accountability over the laws produced in the absence of a legitimate and functioning PLC.|
|The Palestinian Farmers Union as hosting organization of the Stop the Wall Campaign||$65,000||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.|
|PARC- The Agricultural Development Association||$97,850||To contribute to protecting the agriculture farmlands and farmers' rights based on IHRL and IHL.|
|Palestinian Bar Association||$55,000||To strengthen the Palestinian Bar Association constituency and Gaza legal community engagement in civilian protection to uphold human rights and promote access of victims to justice.|
|PCS- The Palestinian Consultative Staff for Developing NGOs||$65,000||To contribute to institutional and policy reforms that advance the rights of people with disabilities through documenting violations of persons with disabilities rights, advocating for the adherence to the Palestinian Disability Law and the International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.|
|PSCCW- Psycho Social Counselling for Center for Women||$50,000||[This application was withdrawn and did not receive funding] To contribute to ending violence against women in the Palestinian society, particularly killing under the pretext of the so-called honor, through enhancing the application of human rights and international law principles.|
|Rabbis for Human Rights||$70,000||To address the ongoing human rights violations taking place in the oPt in general and in the so-called 'Gush Etzion' region specifically, by providing legal representation to enable victims of human rights violations to seek redress and ensure protection of their rights.|
|Teacher Creativity Center||$99,290||To promote the role of education in the formation of informed, responsibile and active citizenry prepared to abide by, defend and promote human rights culture, humanitarian law and the principle of respect for life and human dignity.|
|Women for Life Organization||$35,000||To contribute to reduce all kinds of violence against women and empower divorced women (before consummation) in Salfit and Qalqilya, socially and legally so that they are able to defend their rights.|
- As of the newsletter released in November 2016, Norway no longer appears on the Secretariat’s list of funders. However, according to Norway, an additional funding installment of approximately $300,000 will be distributed in 2017.
- Until 2014, the NGO Development Center (NDC) in Ramallah managed these pooled government finances through its Human Rights/Good Governance (HR/GG) program. (See NGO Monitor’s reports on the previous counterproductive fundingvia the NDS here and here.)
- Founded in 2009, the Russel Tribunal on Palestine is a kangaroo court that uses a legal façade to create an image of neutrality and credibility, and to accuse Israel of apartheid, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
All Articles about Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat: Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands
- MK Peri to Danish Parliament Speaker: Stop funding BDS Kahav Harkov, The Jerusalem Post, June 8, 2016
- Secretariat Blames NGO Monitor Report, February 23, 2015
- Irresponsible European Government NGO Funding Exploits International Law to Promote Conflict and Hate Written submission by Amuta for NGO Responsibility to UNHRC, February 20, 2015
- Who´s Funding Pro-Palestinian Israeli ´Human Rights´ Groups? Evelyn Gordon, Commentary Magazine, August 27, 2015
- Europe Funded Breaking the Silence During Gaza War Audiatur Online (German), August 26, 2015