Lobbying by Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) is an umbrella organization with more than 80 NGOs. The framework was founded in 1997 on the basis of the EU’s Barcelona Declaration and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and is funded by the EU other European governments. Based in Copenhagen, EMHRN also has an office in Brussels, from which it “advocates for human rights with the EU institutions,” lobbies on behalf of its members, and promotes the agendas of partner organizations.
EMHRN is funded through the EU, European countries and through indirect governmental funding from other European funding mechanisms. According to its 2008 annual report, “total operating income” was close to €2 million.
Via the European Instrument for Democracy and Human rights (EIDHR), EMHRN was granted €981,518 in 2009-11 for “Supporting and Strengthening the Capacity of Human Rights Defenders in the Euro-Mediterranean Region through Rapid Financial and Strategic Assistance.” In 2009, EMHRN received €378,814 from the European Commission.
Partner NGOs include Israeli NGOs Adalah, B’Tselem and PCATI and Palestinian groups Al-Mezan, Al-Haq and PCHR.
The only geographical or conflict-related working group in EMHRN is the “Working Group on Palestine/Israel and Palestinians” focusing on Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which allows for disproportionate allegations targeting Israel.
Advocacy is a prominent feature of the working group’s mission: “The aim of the Working Group on Palestine/Israel and Palestinians is to promote and protect human rights (…) which is done through advocacy tours and open letters to relevant decision makers including the EU and EU Member States.” This group also publishes an annual report on “The Human Rights Review on the EU and Israel.”
These NGOs and the working group also lead the EMHRN to act as a lobbying organization within the EU, including issuing of highly biased and inappropriate political recommendations, and frequent calls on the EU to freeze or delay implementation of cooperation agreements involving Israel. For example, the 2011 report “EU and The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel,” published by EMHRN and its partner organization Adalah, states that the EU must “Condition the upgrade of its relations with Israel, including any new bilateral agreement” on “improvements” in what EMHRN claims is the “fields of discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.”
In contrast, the EMHRN has never suggested that that the EU condition or freeze large-scale and direct funding to the PA, although reports published on EMHRN’s website include occasional references to Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians, and internal Palestinian violence, reported by PCHR and Al-Mezan.
As noted, political action and lobbying is an explicit part of EMHRN’s 2008-2010 work programme: “these networking efforts were to be sustained by advocacy activities vis-à-vis the EMP, the ENP, and the EU institutions” (p.4, emphasis added). One of EMHRN’s general objectives is to provide “expertise and action on freedom of association conducive to change in legislation” (p.8, emphasis added).
EMHRN has not registered with the European Commission’s Register of Interest representatives.
In February 2011, EMHRN, together with Adalah and the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), published the report, “The EU and the Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel,” which accuses Israel of “racism”, “discrimination” and “human rights violations,” and calls upon the EU to “condition the upgrade of its relations with Israel, including any new bilateral agreement.” The report was presented in Brussels to EU officials and parliamentarians. In Israel, the report was launched at the office of the EU Delegation to Israel, where it was “introduced and discussed by representatives of 20 EU member states”.
EMHRN organized a March 2011 advocacy mission to London in March 2011 with Adalah, Al Haq, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and PCATI, during which allegedly “anti-democratic and discriminatory laws in Israel” were discussed.
Also in March 2011, EMHRN held a series of meetings in Brussels with Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and an “expert representative” of the Dutch organizations ICCO, Cordaid and OxfamNovib. These meeting also involved EU Commissioner Fuele’s cabinet and EU representatives working with the Israel/OPT and human rights desks of the External Action Service (EEAS).
In May 2011 EMHRN hosted a presentation by Dr. Amir Paz-Fuchs and M. Meron Rapoport titled “Attacks against Israeli NGOs.” Adalah, Physicians for HR-Israel, and PCATI also participated in the event. The speakers addressed alleged “changes in parliamentary behavior toward democracy and human rights, the police clampdown on HRDs and the role of the judiciary and the broader atmosphere in Israel (including the growing racism, the self-censorship of the media and the academe intimidation.” The meeting was also meant to “discuss further advocacy strategy in Europe.”
In June 2011 EMRHN participated in a Medico International “advocacy mission to Berlin,” whose particpants included Al Haq, B’Tselem, and Miri Weingarten representing Adalah, PHR-I, and PCATI. The mission included a series of meetings with German legislators, officials from the German Foreign Office, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Amnesty, HRW, Oxfam, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and EED.