In August 2018, An-Najah University in Nablus held a ceremony to recognize 61 prisoners incarcerated in Israel’s Nafha Prison who had completed a course in international law and human rights. According to the university, the ceremony was organized by the UNESCO Chair on Human Rights and Democracy and Peace at An-Najah, in cooperation with Fatah, Fatah’s youth and student movement, and the Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs.

Course instructors included:

Responding to media coverage of the program, UNESCO attempted to distance itself from the program, claiming that “UNESCO does not fund UNESCO Chairs. It is the responsibility of the university hosting a UNESCO Chair to provide all the resources required – human, financial etc. – for the UNESCO Chair to carry out its work….The diploma/certificate-awarding training is not a UNESCO program and we have no role or contribution to it. Rather it is training provided by the university with the support of the UNESCO Chair. Chairs can contribute to such training but awards, diplomas, and certificates can be issued only by the university, not UNESCO.”

According to UNESCO, it chairs exist in over 700 institution, located in over 116 countries. These devote special attention to “key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.”

UNESCO chairs are active in Israeli institutions, such as Ben Gurion University, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, the Technion, and others.

(Translation of certificate by NGO Monitor)

Certificate of Participation

UNESCO Chair on Human Rights and Democracy and Peace/ An-Najah National University attest that Mr. Wa’al Hajazi Abu Shahadm

Completed a preparatory course of 15 hours in the field of international law and human rights, between February 25, 2018 and April 30, 2018, in Nafha Prison.

Instructors: The prisoner Yasser Abu Bakr, the prisoner Nasser Awiss, the prisoner Izaddin Hamamra, and the prisoner Khaled el-Karam.


Johnny Assi, Chair

Maher al-Natsheh, Acting University President