June 29, 2009
[For annotated version: www.ngo-monitor.org/article/a_clouded_eu_presidency_swedish_funding_for_radical_ngos ]
Swedish government funding for NGO activities under the guise of human rights and humanitarian aid is biased, highly political, and the details are often hidden.
Many NGOs receive significant Swedish support from multiple sources: directly from the SIDA aid agency, via NDC (Ramallah), and from Swedish "framework" NGOs. Some groups also receive funding from the EU's European Commission.
There is no evidence of a detailed study to determine whether this money given to NGOs has accomplished any of the stated objectives.
Sweden funds Diakonia's International Humanitarian Law project, which promotes Palestinian political goals through a distorted and misleading interpretation of international law.
Sweden also funded Sabeel's Nakba Memory program in 2008 "to commemorate the Nakba [Catastrophe] of 1948, examine the current struggles for freedom, equality, and identity, and confront the continuing problems of the 1948 refugees."
Sweden is a main supporter of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - a leader in the NGO "lawfare" strategy of exploiting the universal jurisdiction to bring cases against Israeli officials alleging "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." Such activities fuel the conflict.
The Palme Center falsely accuses Israel of "provok[ing] the al-Aqsa rising and the 'Second Intifada,'" and "disproportionate violence against civilians, unlawful executions and torture." The fighting in Gaza is also blamed on "the provocative Israeli occupation."
Other SIDA grantees, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Women's Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), and Jerusalem Center for Women (JWC), demonize Israel with the rhetoric of "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," and "massacres."
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has been providing substantial aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 2000. In 2008, these areas received SEK 455 million (~$59 million, over 70% of the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] budget). In 2007, they were the 7th highest recipient of SIDA funding in the world (out of SEK 15.4 billion worldwide; complete figures for 2008 are not yet available).
Through this funding, SIDA claims "to promote democracy and respect for human rights, especially in terms of equality," and to "create opportunities for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and contribute to a democratic Palestinian state governed by law." Sweden also provides "expert assistance to help strengthen the PLO's negotiating structures to enable it to be an equal partner in the peace negotiations with Israel," clearly taking the Palestinian position in the process.
SIDA's website also asserts that funding for joint Israeli and Palestinian human rights campaigns "has helped to increase public support for a peaceful solution in both Israel and Palestine." However, no evidence is provided for this questionable claim.
Additionally, the framework organizations provide the information contained in the SIDA database, but the material is often inconsistent or missing. For instance, the "local implementing organisation(s)" is sometimes listed anonymously as "local NGO."
Data in this section is from the SIDA database, unless otherwise noted.
1. Diakonia funding for NGOs
2. Swedish Mission Council (SMR) funding for NGOs
3. Olof Palme International Center (OPC) funding for NGOs
4. Save the Children Sweden - Radda Barnen (SCS) funding for NGOs
5. NDC funding for NGOs
NDC "facilitated" and funded the "Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct," a document that rejects "any normalization activities with the occupier, neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels. No endeavor would be carried out if it undermines the inalienable Palestinian rights of establishing statehood and the return of the refugees to their original homes."
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) - $400,000. PCHR regularly refers to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as "resistance." Following the deaths of five children in a "work accident" (during the preparation of an explosive device) the NGO condemned "the danger of storage of explosives in residential areas by Palestinian resistance groups," and suggested that "IOF are involving through planting a booby-trapped explosive device inside the house" (sic). PCHR is also a leader in the "lawfare" strategy of exploiting the universal jurisdiction statutes in democratic countries in order to bring cases against Israeli political and military officials for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." During the Gaza war, this NGO published accusations of Israeli "collective punishment" and "indiscriminate killing and continued systematic destruction of all the Palestinian institutions and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip," and blamed the "international donor" community for "bankrolling the occupation" and of "complicity in Israeli violations of international law." In 2007, PCHR listed SIDA as a funder (pg. 6), but not in 2008 when it received NDC support. There is no indication of any assessment by the Swedish government regarding the benefits resulting from the funds provided to PCHR.
NDC also funds other highly political NGOs: B'Tselem ($450,000), ICAHD ($80,000), Mossawa ($150,000), and the Palestinian NGO Network ($130,000).
6. Direct SIDA funding for NGOs
It is noteworthy that the Palestinian NGOs listed here are also members of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO - see above), which means that they benefit from Swedish funding in yet an additional way.
[see website for table: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/a_clouded_eu_presidency_swedish_funding_for_radical_ngos ]
On July 1, 2009 Sweden assumes the presidency of the European Union. As this detailed report indicates, Sweden's role in funding numerous highly politicized NGOs fuels the conflict, rather than the advancing the stated goals of promoting peace, democracy and development. The lack of independent oversight in the use of taxpayer funds, as shown in this analysis, is especially troubling at a time when accountability is receiving increasing emphasis. In addition, these NGO funding policies are not consistent with the efforts by the EU and member states to play a more central and constructive role in promoting peace negotiations based on compromise, and addressing the concerns of all the parties to the conflict.
As NGO Monitor's analysis reveals, the Swedish government funds NGOs that pursue Palestinian political goals under the guise of "human rights" and "international law," and demonize Israel with the inflammatory rhetoric of "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing," and "massacres." In addition to compounding Israeli mistrust of the role of the EU, which stems in part from support for NGOs that exclusively promote a Palestinian agenda and engage in biased anti-Israel activities, the delegitimization of Israel contradicts Sweden's stated goals for the region. In order to play a positive role as a European leader in assisting the constructive change necessary to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sweden's NGO funding practices and priorities will need to change.
Correspondence with the Swedish government
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis