The Arab Commission for Human Rights is an independent non-governmental organization dedicated to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the Arab world. Without any political affiliation, the Arab Commission for Human Rights is guided in its work by the principles established in, most notably, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESC), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and all other international human rights instruments.
Founded on January 17, 1998, by a group of 15 human rights advocates from different Arab countries, the Arab Commission for Human Rights is a pan-Arab human rights organization with a focused regional mandate on the promotion of the human rights culture, defense of fundamental freedoms, and protection of all human rights victims in the Arab world irrespective of belief, political conviction, sex, religion, or color. The Arab Commission for Human Rights is open to all Arab citizens who have a serious dedication to the furtherance of human rights principles and who can prove serious devotion to human rights advocacy work without any political affiliation. The Arab Commission for Human Rights is meant to be clearly away from any political involvement of any kind, and has every intention to remain so.
The Arab Commission for Human Rights main priority in all its work is clearly outlined in a firm stance against all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the Arab world. Members of the Arab Commission for Human Rights are Arab and non-Arab individuals who come form across the Arab world and are all known for their serious commitment to the furtherance of human rights. Serious consideration is given to any request of affiliation or membership in the Arab Commission for Human Rights and is only approved after careful examination to the satisfaction of all concerned that a new member has something to offer the Arab Commission for Human Rights in its work away from any political involvement of any kind.
The Arab Commission for Human Rights is operated by its Board of Directors which is composed of the following human rights advocates:
Two thirds of the Arab Commission for Human Rights’ members live in the Arab world while the rest live in Europe. The Arab Commission for Human Rights has been granted the right to work as an independent non-governmental organization in France in accordance with the French Law of Associations (known as Law of 1901) and is planning to open two other offices in the Mashraq and Maghreb Arab countries in the near future. The Arab Commission for Human Rights has, since its creation on 17 January 1998, established a network of national, regional and international contacts and is proud of its firm working relationship with nearly fifty non-governmental organizations in the Arab countries and the world.
It is a universally acknowledged fact that Arab countries are increasingly witnessing marked drawbacks in human rights and fundamental freedoms since the Gulf War. Such drawbacks eradicated any sense of optimism that was left after the fall of the Berlin Wall and that was even deepened by a general political failure on the regional level. In the meantime, the relationships between Arab governments and their citizens were becoming increasingly suppressive; while the legal and operational situations of human rights advocates in at least eight Arab countries have certainly deteriorated during the 1990s, little or no noticeable achievements were made by other human rights advocates in many other Arab countries.
On the other hand, there was no signs that any improvements are taking place on the human rights front either. Human rights violations continued to be on the rise due to civil wars, foreign occupation, sanctions, economic crisis and political disorders as well as daily attacks on the people's freedoms and rights due to the unfair administration of society by the state(s). Such a difficult situation in which the Arab human rights movement found itself has resulted in several problems, both structural and operational, both of which has affected its work and formation. Among the most notable results are the following:
Many human rights advocates in the Arab world have therefore chosen professionalism as a way to continue their work particularly since the components of a civil society were rather weak and the fact that cadres were often exhausted too soon. Whether we like it or not, such problems do affect the movement, its aims, its future and its belonging to the society. This consequently requires more commitment and a deeper approach in facing the objective and subjective problems of the human rights sphere in the Arab world. It also is of an equal importance to avoid falling in trap-like situations where the absence of cooperation and coordination of work can create unhealthy competitive relationships.
After many discussions which began in the Summer of 1997 among human rights advocates from seven Arab countries in which the above problems were addressed and analyzed, a meeting took place on 17 January 1998 after which the birth of the Arab Commission of Human Rights was declared. The aims of the Arab Commission for Human Rights include the following priorities:
In 6 years, the ACHR published about 60 books, reports and studies, organized about 40 training, seminars and conferences and realized missions in most of the Arab Countries.