About Us

About Us

Mission: The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation that provides support and protection to human rights defenders in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries in order to promote human rights, including but not limited to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Vision: To have vibrant civic spaces in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries in which human rights enjoy full respect and human rights defenders can work free from oppression and fear.


Core Values:
We believe in:

Justice: We call for fairness in a just society where human rights are respected and impunity for human rights violations is overcome by holding all perpetrators accountable.

Equality: We respect everyone’s right to be treated equally in terms of rights, status and opportunities, regardless of any differences. We are guided by the principles of non-discrimination and gender equality.

Freedom: We believe that everyone should be free from any form of oppression and that voices of people who peacefully struggle against it must not be silenced.

Safety: We aim to establish safe spaces and maintain a secure environment for human rights defenders to ensure well-being, and physical and digital security.

Solidarity: We support a culture of trust and exchange among human rights defenders to build a stronger, more collaborative network throughout our regions.

We work with:

Integrity: We act with integrity. We are adamant about being credible and trustworthy. We are bound by impact-oriented processes and the highest ethical standards.

Independence: We are guided by independence. We do not take funds from the countries in which we work, or any party that could compromise our values.

Cooperation: We cooperate with all partners through networking and complementary efforts to promote and protect human rights for all.

Our objectives:

  1. To document and expose violations that raise awareness in the media and internationally of cases of human rights defenders at risk.
  2. To enable a safer environment for human rights defenders and enhance their effectiveness.
  3. To connect social movements and facilitate networking and exchanges between human rights defenders.
  4. To provide protection for human rights defenders at risk, through regional and international mechanisms.

Where We Work:

GCHR primarily documents the environment for human rights defenders in the Gulf region, specifically Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. When necessary, GCHR will take on activities in neighbouring countries, such as Yemen and Syria. This scope of work is reviewed periodically.

GCHR was founded in April 2011 by human rights defenders in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries and is based in the region. It receives guidance from an Advisory Board composed of regional and international human rights advocates, including academics and lawyers.

GCHR is a member of:
Women HRD International Coalition
WHRD MENA Coalition


GCHR is funded by Open Society Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust and International Media Support, among other donors. We do not accept funds from any governments in the countries in which we work.


Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director

Maryam Al-Khawaja, Special Advisor on Advocacy

Note: Other staff remain anonymous for their security.

Founding Directors:

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Nabeel Rajab

Advisory Board:

Dr. Hala Al-Dosari

Brian Dooley

Ahmed Mansoor

Jalila Al-Sayed

Kristina Stockwood, Chair

Joe Stork

Other members of the Board remain anonymous for their security, including a Board member based in Iran.