The Arab Association for Human Rights
(HRA) was established in 1988 and registered as a non-profit organisation in Israel in 1990. At the moment, the HRA has four full-time and two part-time local staff, two part-time local volunteers, two full-time international interns, and six student facilitators. It is governed by a board of seven and supervised by a General Assembly. Our mandate is the protection and promotion of international human-rights standards of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel.
By the mid-1990s, the HRA had formalised its goals with the first ‘Three-Year Plan’, dividing its activities into three major fields: human-rights education, women’s rights, and international advocacy. As an independent grassroots NGO, the HRA focuses on working with the local community. Its goal is to increase awareness of human rights among the Arab minority citizens in Israel, since we believe that consciousness is the first step on the way to bring about constructive change. The second major strand of our activities involves international advocacy.
Among the important accomplishments of the HRA is organising – in cooperation with other NGOs – the ‘First Conference for Human Rights in Arab Society in Israel’ in 1994 as well as preparing and presenting – again in cooperation with other organisations – the report Housing for All? The Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing for the Arab Palestinian Minority in Israel to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This was the first alternative report ever submitted to a major UN body on behalf of the Palestinian minority in Israel. In 1998, the HRA submitted a follow-up report to the UN CESCR Committee on Israel’s Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This report was not a joint effort, but entirely produced by the HRA. The HRA also contributed to the NGO Report: The Status of Palestinian Women Citizens of Israel to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1997. Our most recent advocacy material includes ‘“Let Them Suffocate” – Police Brutality during House Demolition in Upper Galilee Village of al-Bea'neh, February 25, 2004’, ‘By All Means Possible – Destruction by the State of Crops of Bedouin Citizens in the Naqab (Negev) by Aerial Spraying with Chemicals’, and presentations on Israel’s population policies.
In 2004, the goals of the HRA will be re-focused as a result evaluations, including an external exercise that was carried out in November 2003. The report produced by an external consultant in cooperation with a local assistant will have a considerable impact on our strategic plan 2004-2006. Hence, human-rights education, now including the women’s human rights project, and international advocacy, supported by the newly established Research and Reporting unit, will remain the core of the HRA’s activities.