Program Contribution to the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)

ICHR is the Palestinian national Human Rights ombudsman, dedicated to supporting Palestinian citizens’ rights. It’s an independent institution which monitors the performance of the government and its compliance with legal and human rights obligations, advices the authorities to improve the respect of human rights in the oPt and support victims of human rights violations. SDC will continue with four other donors to finance its core budget and support its institutional development. This project is a direct contribution to the democratic state building agenda of Switzerland.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Human rights

Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
Sexual & gender-based violence
01.04.2017 - 31.12.2019
CHF  1’500’000

The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) remains affected by systematic and frequent violations of human rights by the main duty bearers: Israeli occupying power, Palestinian Authority and de facto authority in Gaza. The Palestinian parliament (PLC) has been inactive since 2007, and no elections have been organised since 2006. The divide between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip adds to the lack of democratic legitimacy of the national institutions. In this context, human rights violations including arbitrary detention, torture, unenforced enforcement of judicial decisions, restrictions of freedom of opinion are widespread. Women’s rights also raise major concerns, with increased gender-based violence and limited access to justice. Violations of economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to water, to food, to shelter, access to land and property, access to health services and safety/security are also major problems affecting mostly marginalized communities.  

ICHR as a core national institution for Palestinian democratic State-building, mandated to promote and monitor respect of human rights in the whole oPt plays an important role in this context. It is highly respected by all Palestinian duty-bearers and is viewed as a non-partisan, autonomous, neutral and professional national human rights institution.


To protect and promote human rights in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights law, applying a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA).

Target groups

Palestinian authorities, Legislative Council members, civil institutions (courts), Civil society actors, security agencies & Palestinian victims of human rights violations in the oPt.

Medium-term outcomes
  1. To promote the respect of human rights in Palestine
  2. To create an enabling legislative and policy environment that safeguards human rights in Palestine in conjunction with SDGs
  3. To consolidate prevention, protection, accountability and compensation of  human rights violations
  4. To promote the use of international mechanisms to protect human rights of Palestinians

Expected results:  

  • Building ICHR capacity to take up the role of the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) against torture to enhance internal accountability within Palestinian security agencies in preparation for Palestine joining OPCAT
  • Developing ICHR expertise in supporting the PA’s institutions regarding reporting, writing its own shadow reports, leading national consultations, and following up on the implementation of human rights treaties and conventions. Moreover, the Palestinian executive authorities are closely monitored and held accountable for aligning domestic legislation and policies with international standards with a special focus on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ESCR) of marginalized groups.
  • Further enhancing of ICHR core functions in the fields of monitoring, reporting, sensitisation and capacity building of security agencies
  • Effective interventions to protect freedom of speech, right to assembly and political freedoms, in particular by extending the use of complaint mechanisms by the citizens
  • Networking, lobbying and advocacy campaigns are organised in the following priorities : protection of the rights of  marginalised and vulnerable groups with special focus on socio economic rights (labour, unemployment and child labour), prevention of torture, improving detention and rehabilitation centres’ conditions, allowing regular visits of detainees by physicians, and increasing the internal expertise on women and children’s rights
  • Consolidate ICHR governance, provide capacity building and improve skills of the ICHR staff, build and manage successful a management information system.

Results from previous phases:  

  • ICHR directly reached out to at least 3,840 individuals through awareness activities, amongst which 1085 were community members, 1’388 were school students, 450 civil CSOs staff and members, 487 university students, 527 mid-level security agencies’ staff and 192 public sector servants. It is estimated that the knowledge is transferred indirectly to at least 23,000 Palestinians.
  • In cooperation with UN Women, ICHR promoted women access to justice through establishment and activation of the women access to justice observatory, putting a clear system in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders to oversee and manage the obstacles hindering women access to justice.
  • Reviewed and amended the reference framework of the national educational curriculum, integrating human rights concepts including international conventions as key references, assessing 26 qualified messages in the civil education curriculum of 1st, 6th and 9th grades.
  • Reviewed and provided recommendation to 8 legislations and 7 policies and regulations that directly affect marginalized groups including women, children and people with disabilities for both PA authority in the West Bank and Hamas authority in Gaza (i.e. Cancelling Hamas national solidarity tax, Draft Public Education law, Civil service draft law in relation to people with disabilities, Presidential Decree on social security, Draft Presidential decree on transfer and transplanting human parts,  Public employment law/implementing regulations in relation to People with Disabilities, Policies to organize juvenile justice sector, Policies related to electricity crises in Gaza, Legal Rights of wounded people with Disabilities, Policies related to transfer program of battered women in Gaza)
  • Enhanced Palestinian legislation to comply with International Human Rights principles and conventions illustrated by interventions at Judiciary and executive systems (i.e. suspension of decree related to the establishment of the Higher Media Council, adopting the criminalization of torture clause in the draft police law)
  • Mainstreamed citizens’ economic, cultural and social rights throughout the National Policy Agenda (2017-2022)

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
  • Sub-National State SouthEast

Other partners

Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden (donors consortium); the Palestinian Authority.

Coordination with other projects and actors

HR/IHL Secretariat CSOs partners & donors, Diakonia, OHCHR, AIDA, relevant PA ministries such as MoI, MoJ, Min of Women Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and humanitarian actors.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’500’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’445’560
Project phases Phase 7 01.03.2020 - 31.12.2022   (Active)

Phase 6 01.04.2017 - 31.12.2019   (Active)

Phase 5 01.01.2014 - 31.03.2017   (Active) Phase 4 01.07.2011 - 31.12.2013   (Active)

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), established in 1993, is the national human rights Institution in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Its mission is to protect, monitor and promote human rights of Palestinians including obstacles and challenges that prohibit Palestinian Authorities (PA) from enforcing the rule of law.

In the oPt, the absence of a functioning legislative power since 2006 has systematised law-making by Presidential decrees and left state institutions to operate without proper oversight and accountability. The independence of the judiciary is also limited. The decade-long intra-Palestinian divide between the West Bank and Gaza Strip adds to the lack of democratic legitimacy of the national institutions.

In the fragile context of oPt, ICHR plays an increasingly important role. It raises citizens’ awareness about their rights and handles their complaints. It also builds capacities of law enforcement bodies and duty bearers on human rights principles. It assesses the treatment of persons in detention, and monitors how Palestinian legislations and policies comply with international law conventions and treaties, as well as the human rights status of vulnerable groups (women, children, persons with disabilities).

Every year, ICHR receives more than 3’000 complaints of human rights violations that mainly relate to police and security forces, but also to other state bodies. The most common complaints are about violations of the right to correct legal proceedings (including through arbitrary detention) and of the right to physical security. ICHR has also been fiercely advocating against torture and the death penalty through campaigns or public events. As a result of this advocacy, the PA acceded in December 2017 to the Optional Protocol against Torture and to the Protocol on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.

ICHR produces an annual report on human rights in Palestine that is widely distributed and referenced by citizens, civil society organisations. ICHR is recognized internationally as an independent body fully complying with the international standards for National Human Rights Institutions, the so-called Paris Principles.

Switzerland is committed to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on a negotiated two-state solution. It aims at contributing to the establishment of an independent, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestinian state. Under its engagement on the promotion of and respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, Switzerland, together with Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, has supported the ICHR for many years. These like-minded donors are willing to reinforce ICHR capacity to take up the role of National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) against torture, to develop its expertise regarding reporting to ratified conventions and treaties, monitoring government plans, budgets and policies and localizing human rights culture through awareness campaigns. Through this work stream and responding to its obligation to monitor the compliance of PA institutions with their human rights obligations, ICHR already produced a shadow report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in July 2018.


The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) is respected by all Palestinian duty-bearers and is viewed as a non-partisan, autonomous, neutral and professional national human rights in­stitution.

ICHR works at different levels such as at legisla­tions, policies and regulations to ensure that hu­man rights are brought into reality: It also directly reaches out to individuals (community members, school and university students, civil society orga­nisations, security agencies staff and public sector servants) through awareness raising activities.

The National educational curriculum has integra­ted Human rights concepts including international conventions as key references in certain grades.

ICHR reviewed selected legislations, policies and regulations from a human rights point of view, such as the Presidential Decree on social security, or the policies to organize the Juvenile Justice Sec­tor.

Citizen’s economic, cultural and social rights were incorporated into the formulation of the National Policy Agenda (201–2022).

ICHR’s shadow report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (July 2018) highlights important issues such as the safety of women and girls, their access to education, the high unemployment levels of women in particular, the need to adjust social and cultural behavioral patterns among men and women.


“We feel good when we can prevent acts of torture. Through our monitoring work, we were able to document a number of incidents… We visited the detention centre several times, intervened at the official level and were able to stop the use of tor­ture…”.  An ICHR Director in the West Bank.