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Organizational History & Evolution

The Palestinian Human Rights Organization (PHRO) is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit Human Rights NGO which was formed by a private initiative. Established in 1997 and based in Mar Elias Refugee Camp, in Beirut, it is recognized in Lebanon under registration no. 36/AD. PHRO is devoted to the promotion, protection and defense of the Human rights of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon and the wider MENA region.

PHRO feels the need to be responsive to the dynamic changes within the MENA region as a result of the ongoing “Arab Spring”. In this specific context, PHRO advocates that vulnerable populations should be granted particular attention from local, national and international stakeholders. Palestinian Refugees living in the countries involved in the “Arab Spring” are especially vulnerable owing to the protection gap they are facing and the changing political scenes within these countries. Thus, PHRO decided to extend its mandate to cover other countries in the MENA region in addition to Lebanon.


PHRO is an active member of the following coalitions: the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR). PHRO's working standards are presumed from the International Human Rights Norms, the Arab League Pacts, the Barcelona Process, the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and the Palestinian Refugees hosting countries and its related Action plan, and on UN Resolution 194 which calls for the Right of Return.

Mission and Vision

Since its inception PHRO has been working in a non-discriminatory and unbiased manner with Palestinian Refugees regardless of their religion, socio-economic status, legal status and their location. PHRO's initiatives are carried out at the local, national, regional, and international levels, and seek to raise the profile of Palestinian Refugees, and to address the discrimination they face. While raising awareness on human rights amongst both refugee and host communities, PHRO encourages Palestinian communities to translate this knowledge into legitimate and peaceful campaigns focused on obtaining the recognition of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The organization aims to strengthen the social inclusion, participation and influence of Palestinian Refugees in their societies. Furthermore, PHRO aims to provide these refugees with the proper means, skills and knowledge to enable their active engagement in policy making which concerns their well-being and welfare, in order to better their chances of human rights based horizontal development. PHRO calls for the realization of United Nations (UN) Resolution 194, and appeals for its rightful implementation and calls for an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. The philosophy of the founders of PHRO was centered on their Palestinian Identity, their firm belief in the Right of Return, and their unwavering commitment to justice and human rights principles.

PHRO’s Programs

PHRO conducts its work through the following major programs: Researching, Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights Violations; Human Rights Education and Awareness Raising; Advocacy and Dialogue. The organization carries out its wide-ranging projects within each program through planning, preparing and conducting training workshops, seminars and conferences as well as various activities, and works in collaboration with International Organizations and other NGOs. The main interventions within each program are highlighted below:

1. Researching, Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights Violations
Investigating incidents to uncover the long history of human rights violations against Palestinian Refugees requires systematic collection of data and plays a crucial role in PHRO's mandate to promote and protect the fundamental and inalienable rights of Palestinian Refugees. PHRO attempts to provide legal support to refugees and seeks to generate solutions in order to alleviate daily suffering and to bring about change in their socio-economic status. The research aspect of this program focuses on investigating areas specific to the current legal and socio-economic status of Palestinian Refugees within MENA, and seeks to produce reports on its findings.

Research methodology includes: field fact-finding missions, interviews, and data provided by various individuals and groups from both host and Palestinian communities. The research reports, published in both Arabic and English and also available on PHRO’s website, are disseminated widely, in order to improve understanding on the issue of Palestinian Refugees.

2. Human Rights Education and Awareness Rising
PHRO seeks to use human rights education as a tool to prepare the ground for Palestinian Refugees to reclaim and secure their rights. This education includes information about justice and mechanisms for legal redress, in order to empower Palestinian Refugees. It is a social and human development strategy that enables Palestinian women, men and children to become actively engaged.

PHRO plans, prepares and conducts Education training programs and activities, sometimes in collaboration with other NGOs. Recent areas of focus include, Awareness Raising, Peace Education as well as Civil Action. It aims to produce a blend of ethical thinking, participation and action of Palestinian Refugees in the decisions, which shape their lives and that, is needed to cultivate public policies based on human rights.

3. Advocacy and Dialogue
PHRO’s advocacy program targets the local and international community, in order to raise their awareness about the Palestinian Refugees’ situation in the MENA region and ensure that this issue stays on the international agenda and that it is constantly addressed with host countries. PHRO advocates for decision makers at local and international levels to resolve the dire human rights situation and discrimination facing Palestinian Refugees in MENA countries, and encourages local and international human rights organizations to play a larger role in supporting the quest for civil rights to be granted to Palestinian Refugees in the region.

One of the main goals of PHRO is to narrow the gap between Palestinian Refugees and their host societies. Dialogue is used to assist in integrating Palestinian Refugees into host communities, while ensuring the preservation of their Palestinian Identity. While holding its dialogue activities, PHRO seeks to be inclusive of civil society representatives from both host and Palestinian communities: Palestinian popular bodies (both civil and political), organizations, academic representatives, journalists and clerics.

4. Crosscutting sub-core programs
Within these programmes, there are three crosscutting sub-core programs, dependent upon: the political climate; the occurrence of dire human rights violations; the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations; social and economic changes; post conflict factors and funds.

a. Gender: throughout its initiatives, PHRO aims to be actively engaged in gender mainstreaming. It seeks to do so by advocating for the enhancement of women’s participation and providing women with opportunities to increase their voice. By advancing women’s civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights, PHRO intends to create the necessary conditions for a fairer distribution of power in society that will eventually lead to institutional reforms.

b. Transitional Justice: PHRO feels that, as an active member of MENA’s civil society, the organization should actively contribute to driving forward Transitional Justice and ensure that this long-term process, essential to the rebuilding of social trust and a fractured justice system, is not held hostage to political agendas. Through the implementation of non-judicial and judicial measures, the organization aims to address, redress and prevent past and present abuses and mass human rights violations by raising awareness on the issue of justice and the victims’ rights, in post conflict host countries.

c. Human Rights Based Development: PHRO serves to assist duty bearers of host MENA countries to fulfil their roles and duties to individuals living within their countries, including Refugees from Palestine. It intends to do so by providing human rights training to governments’ officials and groups within the Palestinian Refugee communities. Their participation enables policies to be more inclusive of the specific needs and aspirations of all groups within Palestinian Refugees communities residing in MENA and increases the likelihood of comprehensive, sustainable development within these communities.

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