UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Meets with Human Rights Commissions in Dublin

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Joint Committee Established under Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement Discusses Brexit Rights Divergence Threat with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has been told that a generation of human rights and equality protections provided under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement must not be placed at risk post-Brexit.

The UN High Commissioner held a face-to-face meeting today in Dublin with Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and Chief Commissioner Les Allamby Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and Commission Members. The two Commissions under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement have a formal role to jointly consider human rights issues in the island of Ireland.

The two Chief Commissioners set out to the UN High Commissioner that the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is a peace treaty that is lodged with the UN, and as such the terms of the Treaty including its provisions on human rights and equality cannot be unilaterally changed by one government.

The meeting which took place on the UN’s International Day of Non-Violence discussed the role of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in over 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement’s section on rights, safeguards and equality of opportunities explicitly sees the parties affirm the human rights guarantees provided under the international treaty.

Following the meeting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stated:

“I wanted to hear about the consequences beyond trade related to Brexit. We will be following and monitoring the situation with respect to human rights.

“Globally we are seeing a pushback on human rights, and we must work proactively to ensure positive responses to these challenges.”

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement holds a significant status as an international peace treaty, lodged with the United Nations over twenty years ago

“Today’s meeting has been an important opportunity to speak directly with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, about the rights, safeguards and equality provisions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The joint perspective of the two National Human Rights Institutions north and south is that Brexit cannot be allowed to undermine, diminish or dissolve these rights which have been guaranteed by both the British and Irish governments.”

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission stated:

“The UK Government’s commitment to “no diminution of rights” under the relevant parts of the Agreement is a welcome one. We have important questions on how this will be implemented in practice. Those questions become even more stark if an agreement is not reached between the EU and the UK government.

“The protection of human rights and equality impacts on the daily lives of people including on citizenship rights, access to services and much more. The two Commissions have been actively involved in making sure human rights and equality issues are to the fore of the discussions around Brexit.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Claire Martin claire.martin@nihrc.org 02890 243987

Notes to editor:

The Joint Committee Established Under the Good Friday Agreement

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement’s section on rights, safeguards and equality of opportunities, provides for a joint committee of representatives of Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, as a North-South forum for consideration of human rights issues in the island of Ireland.

The founding statutes of both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have ensured a formal basis in law for the Joint Committee.

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, as an international treaty, recognised by the United Nations, laid down a mandate for both national human rights institutions, and the mechanism to ensure strong cooperation between them.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.


02 Oct 2019