The Galilee Society – The Arab National Society for Health, Research and Services – strives to achieve equitable health, environmental and socio-economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs in Israel.
Through advocacy, service provision and capacity building, the Galilee Society facilitates the empowerment of Palestinian citizens and strengthens civil society in Israel. The Galilee Society has a history of collaboration with Jewish, Arab and international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. The largest and longest-standing Palestinian NGO in Israel, the Galilee Society is known and trusted by the Palestinian community as an organization that strives to protect minority rights, thus promoting and strengthening democratic principles of pluralism and equality in Israel.
Established by four health care professionals in 1981, the Galilee Society has long been committed to a rights-based approach to development. This approach, formalized in 2004, eliminates the separation between human rights and development as distinct spheres. It creates a dynamic in which development is seen as a component of human rights and human rights provide the framework to guide development agendas. Through its rights-based development programs, the Galilee Society advocates for the Palestinian minority's right to equality, right to health, right to a healthy environment, and right to a decent standard of living.
The rights-based approach is not a new notion in the context of the Galilee Society´s work. Rather it provides a structure within which we have placed our existing programs, in order to clarify and codify our aims. Since its inception, the Galilee Society has sought "to achieve equitable health, environmental and socio-economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs in Israel" (The Galilee Society Mission Statement). Equality and rights, both individual and collective, have always been our guiding principles.
The rights-based approach stems from the integrity and indivisibility of norms, standards and principles of the international human rights system. Most groups utilizing the rights-based approach are on some level vulnerable to the whims of a dominant or dominating culture: women, children, minorities and indigenous peoples. The Galilee Society focuses on the Palestinian minority in Israel as an indigenous people, and, in particular, on Palestinian women and children. Our programs strive to eliminate discrimination against the Palestinian minority living in Israel, in the spheres of health, environmental, educational and socio-economic status. Important elements of this approach are accountability, empowerment and participation. Galilee Society programs are designed to ensure these elements are included in a comprehensive and transparent way.
Raising the level of accountability is one of the focuses of the rights-based approach, which is achieved through the identification of claim-holders and their entitlements and corresponding duty-holders and their obligations. Empowerment strategies identify the beneficiaries as the owners of rights and directors of development. Participation is achieved by providing the concerned communities with access to information, procedures, policy making processes, and ensuring feedback mechanisms are in place and accessible. Development projects, as implemented by the Galilee Society and other NGOs, are conceived and built with the community and not outside it.
In coming years, the Galilee Society will continue to emphasize the rights-based approach, especially through its core program: the Health Rights Center, the Environmental Justice Center, the Naqab Department and Rikaz Databank.
For more information: http://www.gal-soc.org/en/