Human Rights and Equality Bodies
Article 14(c) of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland provides that the Specialised Committee shall 'consider any matter of relevance to Article 2 of this Protocol brought to its attention by'
- the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)
- the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI)
- the Joint Committee of representatives of the Human Rights Commissions of Northern Ireland and Ireland (i.e. NIHRC and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission).
Article 2 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland concerns the rights of individuals:
- The United Kingdom shall ensure that no diminution of rights, safeguards or equality of opportunity, as set out in that part of the 1998 Agreement entitled Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity results from its withdrawal from the Union, including in the area of protection against discrimination, as enshrined in the provisions of Union law listed in Annex 1 to this Protocol, and shall implement this paragraph through dedicated mechanisms.
- The United Kingdom shall continue to facilitate the related work of the institutions and bodies set up pursuant to the 1998 Agreement, including the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Joint Committee of representatives of the Human Rights Commissions of Northern Ireland and Ireland, in upholding human rights and equality standards.
The work of the NIHRC and ECNI in relation to Article 2 is supported by a 'Dedicated Mechanism' and the establishment of new powers and duties through the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 amending the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (s78A-E).
No 'matter of relevance' has yet been brought formally to the attention of the Specialised Committee.
The Dedicated Mechanism units in the NIHRC and ECNI alongside the IHREC have, however, been active in their mandate to raise issues of relevance or concern in light of Article 2, including through the production and commission of publications such as:
- de Mars, S. et al (2020) Continuing EU Citizenship “Rights, Opportunities and Benefits” in Northern Ireland after Brexit Commissioned by NIHRC and IHREC
- Evans, P., Horne, A. and Ghazi, T. (2021) Legislative Scrutiny and the Dedicated Mechanism for monitoring Article 2 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol Commissioned by ECNI
- NIHRC and ECNI (2022) NIHRC and ECNI Working Paper: The Scope of Article 2(1) of the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol
- Craig et al (2023) European Union Developments in Equality and Human Rights: The Impact of Brexit on the Divergence of Rights and Best Practice on the Island of Ireland Commissioned by ECNI, NIHRC and IHREC
For academic/expert analyses of Article 2 and its implications see Protocol Analysis.