A Charter of Rights for Ireland: An Unknown Quantity in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement

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Title: A Charter of Rights for Ireland: An Unknown Quantity in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement
Authors: Egan, Suzanne
Murray, Rachel
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/7590
Date: Oct-2007
Abstract: The basic aim of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement was to try to achieve a political settlement to the conflict in Northern Ireland. While the channels for the settlement were to be primarily institutional, the importance of safeguarding the rights of both communities in Northern Ireland by addressing equality and justice issues was recognized, to varying degrees, by all parties to the process that led to the drafting of the Agreement. As the negotiations progressed, the human rights section of the Agreement grew exponentially, moving ‘from the margins to the mainstream’ so that the final Agreement contains a whole section on human rights protections. Not only have these particular elements of the Agreement come to fruition, but they also have received a considerable amount of public and political interest as well as academic comment and analysis. Buried within the human rights chapter, however, is a concept that has so far received minimal interest or enthusiasm from any quarter. That is the reference in paragraph 10 of the 'Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity' chapter to the possibility of establishing an all-island Charter of Rights. The purpose of this article is threefold. First, it traces the genesis of the Charter of Rights concept through to its inclusion in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement; secondly, it examines the approach thus far taken by the Joint Committee of the two human rights commissions to the task entrusted to them in relation to the Charter by the Agreement; and finally, it explores some of the issues that need to be considered and the challenges faced by that Committee in future efforts to assist in the construction of any such Charter. In so doing, it describes the political and legal difficulties faced in attempts not only to formulate agreement on human rights but also to create a legal document which may be applicable to two jurisdictions. It concludes by suggesting ways in which the project may be progressed.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright (published version): 2007 British Institute of International and Comparative Law
Keywords: Charter of Rights;Good Friday Agreement;Belfast Agreement;Irish Human Rights Commission;Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission;Joint Committee
DOI: 10.1093/iclq/lei202
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Law Research Collection

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