For more than two decades, human rights activists and organizations in the Arab region called for the establishment of an indigenous fund to support their work to promote and defend human rights. With financial and administrative support from the Ford Foundation, a committee was formed to explore the feasibility of establishing an endowed and sustainable funding agency devoted to supporting long-term efforts to advance human rights and the rule of law.
The Preparatory Committee, composed of Fateh Azzam, Atallah Kuttab, Amin Mekki Meddani, and Mona Younis, and coordinated by Yousry Moustafa, began its work in 2002. Over the course of the next three years the Committee commissioned a series of studies and consulted widely to determine how best to set up a funding entity inside the region. From the start the Committee envisioned an organization that would both fund promising work and initiatives inside the region and spur others in the region to do the same. Encouraged by their findings and the enthusiastic support received at home and abroad, the Committee laid the foundations for the launch of the Arab Human Rights Fund in 2008.