The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a national human rights institution with A status accreditation from the United Nations (UN). NIHRC is funded by United Kingdom government, but is an independent public body that operates in full accordance with the UN Paris Principles.
Established on the basis of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, we play a central role in supporting a society that, as it rebuilds following conflict, respects and upholds human rights standards and responsibilities. Human rights values and standards need to be at the heart of our society if we are to achieve well-being, peace and justice. We are Northern Ireland’s centre of excellence on human rights.
We hold government, elected representatives, statutory and other relevant organisations to account. To do this, we may work in partnership with these organisations and civil society.
Our Core Activities
As the national human rights institution (NHRI) in Northern Ireland, the Commission has a range of duties and responsibilities including contributing to the monitoring of international human rights treaties in Northern Ireland. The core aspects of our daily operation are fundamental to fulfilling our mission. They are key to our compliance with the United Nations Paris Principles on the role of a national human rights institution and the Nolan principles of ethical standards in public life.
Our statutory functions include:
- Advising the Westminster government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, and key agencies on legislation and compliance with human rights frameworks
- Our work to promote awareness of human rights through education, training and research
- Our international treaty monitoring work
- Our legal advice work including taking strategic legal cases
- Our engagement with other national human rights institutions in the UK
- Our work as part of the Joint Committee with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
Each year, the Commission reviews progress by government and public authorities with human rights laws and standards. Our Annual Statement, which is published in December, records progress on meeting human rights standards. The Annual Statement strongly informs our future work priorities.
In 2015, the Commission was elected the chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. This reflects the esteem in which the Commission is held internationally and is an important opportunity to share our own experiences, facilitate dialogue and learn from others to achieve direct benefits for the people of Northern Ireland. The chair was handed over to the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain in April 2018.