Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission given new role post-Brexit

25 November 2020

The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement includes the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol. The Protocol reflects the commitment made by the UK Government to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. In particular, the UK Government committed that the withdrawal will not lead to any diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland, as set out in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, including in the area of protection against discrimination (Article 2(1)).

In the context of the Article 2 commitment, The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) will work together to provide oversight of, and reporting on, rights and equalities issues falling within the scope of the commitment that have an island of Ireland dimension.

Schedule 3 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 confers new functions on both the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, to enable each to act as part of the ‘dedicated mechanism’. The role of the dedicated mechanism will be to monitor, advise, report on and enforce the UK’s adherence to its commitment that there will be no diminution of rights, safeguards or equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU. This is due to come into force at the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020.

Source: Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

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