History & Purpose
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) is an independent, non-governmental human rights organisation that works to ensure that the administration of justice in Northern Ireland is compatible with the highest international human rights standards. We aim to be a ‘thinktank with teeth’ – we monitor rights and equality in Northern Ireland and develop and advocate for tangible, rights-based solutions to ongoing and emerging problems.
Founded at the height of the Troubles, CAJ has spent the last forty years striving to promote justice and protect human rights within Northern Ireland. In 1981, CAJ first came into being as a standing committee comprised of individuals from many different walks of life who were determined to keep alive the principles of human rights in the middle of a storm of violence and repression. From these beginnings, we have grown into the organisation we are today.
Since 1981, Northern Ireland has undergone a major transformation. Violence has given way to a fragile peace following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but the fight for human rights and the rule of law is as important and as necessary as it ever was. Structural inequality and a sectarian, repressive state structure were major factors that led to conflict. For peace to be achieved required systemic change – CAJ and many others were successful in ensuring that equality and other human rights were placed at the centre of the peace settlement. Our task since then has been to help construct a new society based on human rights and the rule of law. The protection and promotion of human rights remain central to safeguarding peace in Northern Ireland.
CAJ takes no position on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and is firmly opposed to the use of violence for political ends. Our membership is drawn from across the community, and we receive no government funding. CAJ’s work is based on international human rights laws and standards. We work in solidarity with other human rights NGOs, both locally and internationally, and are affiliated to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
The protection of justice and promotion of human rights is the foundation underlying CAJ’s wider work. Human rights are indivisible and have universal application – we work to advance rights and equality and prevent human rights abuses for the benefit of all people in Northern Ireland. CAJ aims to directly address human rights issues that may jeopardise our hard-won peace.
Our vision is for Northern Ireland’s advancement into a peaceful, rights-based society to become an everyday reality.
CAJ’s mission is to provide high quality analysis of international human rights standards, engage with others working to advance rights, and, on that basis, formulate policy ideas that will help build a peaceful society based on human rights and equality. We critique existing problems and craft practical, human rights compliant solutions. We intervene through litigation, advocacy, and lobbying. Our intention is to be a centre of excellence in terms of quality research and policy development. We play an active role in Northern Ireland, while also participating in UK-wide and Ireland-wide campaigns and developing international links. We disseminate lessons from NI’s human rights and peacebuilding experience to an international audience.