About Us

Who We Are: The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation that was founded in April 2011 by human rights defenders in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries. It receives guidance from an Advisory Board composed of regional and international human rights advocates, including academics and lawyers. GCHR is based in the region.

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.

 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 are fully respected and human rights defenders including journalists, bloggers, and internet activists 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 engage in peaceful protest must not be silenced.

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

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

We work with:

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

Independence: We do not take funds from governments in the countries in which we work, or any party that may compromise our values.

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

GCHR’s Overall Objectives:
To provide protection for human rights defenders and enhance their effectiveness in the Gulf and neighbouring countries.
2. To raise awareness locally, regionally and internationally about issues pertaining to human rights defenders at risk.
3. To enable a safer environment for human rights defenders at risk, through advocacy at regional fora and via international mechanisms.
4. To facilitate networking and exchanges between human rights defenders and social movements.

Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director

Maryam Al-Khawaja, Special Advisor on Advocacy

Sabah Faour, Financial Manager

Elsa Saade, Human Rights Consultant

Hilary Daly, Human Rights Researcher

Lisa Aohiggins, Human Rights Researcher

Note: Other staff remain anonymous for their security.

Founding Directors:
Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
Nabeel Rajab

Advisory Board:

Dr. Hala Al-Dosari

Joshua Colangelo-Bryan

Brian Dooley

Melanie Gingell

Ahmed Mansoor

Jalila Al-Sayed

Joe Stork

Kristina Stockwood, Chair

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


The Gulf Center for Human Rights is funded by Sigrid Rausing Trust and International Media Support, among other donors. The Center accepts no funding or grants from any governments in the countries where we work.


Gulf Centre for Human Rights is Member of:

International Federation for Human Rights



Women HRD International Coalition