Founded in 1972 in Innsbruck, Austria by students from Austria, India, and Egypt, the International Progress Organization (IPO) is a non-profit, non-governmental, and nominally “non-partisan” group that claims to promote “cultural and academic exchange between all nations; … cultural self-realization …; tolerance towards other cultures that are not yet included in cultural exchanges; realization of political, social and economic human rights; establishment of a new international economic order; [and] development of international law.”
Currently based in Vienna, IPO sponsors international conferences and research seminars on democracy, human rights, conflict resolution, international law, and economic development; it monitors elections and human rights situations in various countries; it works jointly with academic institutions and international NGOs around the world; and it publishes the series “Studies in International Relations.” It also produces books, papers, and monographs that are largely critical of American and Israeli policies. Recently published titles include: Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads; The Iraq Crisis and the United Nations: Power Politics vs. the International Rule of Law; and 9/11 – Discrimination in Response.
IPO enjoys consultative status with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and is affiliated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. It has permanent representation at the UN in New York City, Vienna, and Geneva, as well as at UNESCO in Paris and in Beirut. Additionally, IPO serves as the Secretariat of the NGO Committee on Development, a collection of NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations. IPO claims to have “a regular budget based solely upon contributions from its members and from individual donors,” but does not divulge its sources of funding on its website.
IPO is one of the primary NGOs supporting the “Durban strategy” to delegitimize Israel as an alleged human rights violator. Its website features an inflammatory August 28, 2001 speech by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi at Durban. In that address, Ashrawi referred to “Palestine” as “a land besieged and repeatedly violated by a most brutal Israeli military occupation”; a “tortured nation” suffering “exclusion, denial, racism, … national victimization … oppression, violence, cruelty, and injustice.”
Since its founding, IPO has been headed by Dr. Hans Koechler, a professor of philosophy at the University of Innsbruck who also serves as Coordinator for the International Committee for Palestinian Human Rights, a division of IPO. Koechler participated in a July 2002 conference at the Zayed Center for Coordination & Follow-Up in Abu Dhabi, entitled “War Victims and International Law. The Zayed Center was closed in August 2003 after international attention was focused on the extremist nature of its agendas, its guest speakers, and the anti-Semitic and conspiracy theory literature it published.
Koechler also appeared at a September 2002 International Ecumenical Conference on “Terrorism in a Globalized World” in the Philipines. There he spoke on the “War on Terror, its Impact on the Sovereignty of States and its Implications for Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The Conference Declaration abjured the “Israeli state terrorism against Palestine [that] forms part of the U.S. agenda in the Middle East.” On November 29, 2005 (the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”), Koechler addressed the UN General Assembly’s Committee on the topic of the “Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.” His speech was an excoriation of Israel, including demands for an international investigation into Yasser Arafat‘s “mysterious” death.
In its reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, IPO often denounces Israel’s allegedly gratuitous violence while casting Palestinian terrorism as an understandable response to that violence. In a 2002 statement titled “War In Palestine: A Declaration of the International Progress Organization,” Hans Koechler asserted: “[T]he problem of terrorism can only be solved if the root causes of the suicidal attacks are addressed: namely the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land … and the permanent subjugation of the entire people of Palestine to Israeli rule.”
This profile was composed, in large part, from information provided by NGO Monitor.