Promoting Justice /
Protecting Rights

Equality

Equality is a basic human right and in many ways can be seen as underpinning all others.

For convenience we often use the phrase “human rights and equality,” but such is the concept’s fundamental character that we should say “human rights including equality” or perhaps “equality and all other human rights.” Why? Because the essence of human rights is that they are universal and apply to everyone by virtue of their simple humanity.

Equality related publications

Any breach of the equality principle therefore undermines the moral or normative basis of all human rights. Discrimination is an assault on human dignity and sense of belonging and self-worth; but it is also a breach of the very universality which is the basic characteristic of “human” rights.

Equality is also the basis of good relations between different groups. Good relations can only be built on respect and non-discrimination in a society that everyone agrees is basically fair.

To take the contrary position and promote good relations on the basis of the toleration of inequality is to simply argue for an acceptance of discrimination and possible repression. In a divided society this understanding of the overwhelming importance and primary position of equality is even more important. All these are reasons why CAJ takes equality very seriously indeed.

Gender Specific Work

CAJ continue to support the women’s movement to ensure the full and equal participation of women in public and political life as committed to in the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement.

CAJ continue to respond to human rights treaty bodies that advance women’s equality such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Rights of Persons With a Disability, Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other United Nations Resolutions such as Security Council Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security.

CAJ have contributed to gender specific work through working with the Women’s Policy Group to advance a Gender Equality Strategy for NI. CAJ supported the Women’s Manifesto for the NI Assembly elections in 2016. CAJ also made submissions to the Department for the Environment on women’s inclusion in community planning at a local government level in 2015. CAJ provided expert advice to the Legacy Gender Integration Group on the design of the Gender Principles for the Dealing with the Legacy of the Past 2015 and inclusion of a gender balance with regards to the setting up of any institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past in NI through the Stormont House Agreement Model Bill.

CAJ also made written submissions to the Westminster Associate Party Parliamentary Group’s call for evidence into the application of UNSCR 1325 to Northern Ireland in 2011 and 2013.

CAJ continue to work on equality of opportunity of women including all of their multiple identities through the Equality Coalition and its broader membership.

CAJ have taken a position on reproductive rights for women supporting both the decriminalisation of terminations and the liberalisation of abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Latest press releases and publications

08
Sep

Covid Conversations – Human Rights in a Pandemic

The Equality Coalition, Transitional Justice Institute, and Human Rights Consortium are running a series of webinars this summer and autumn examining human rights issues that have been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. All webinars in the ‘Covid Conversations’ series will take place via Zoom. Early registration is advised as each event is...
14
Aug

EU-UK future relationship cliff edge: Outstanding issues around access to EU and human rights in the Northern Ireland context

There are a number of imminent rights protections gaps that will result from Brexit. Some of these areas were to be addressed in the context of the EU-UK future relationship negotiations yet seem to have fallen off the agenda as the end of the transition period approaches. The pandemic, alongside a perception such matters have...
Cover of Just News June 2020
08
Jun

Just News June 2020

Inside this issue: In a series of interrelated articles, this special edition of Just News examines the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on rights and equality in Northern Ireland. Contributors include CAJ Director, Brian Gormally; NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby; Women’s Sector Lobbyist, Rachel Powell; ICCL Executive Director, Liam Herrick; and the Special Rapporteur on...
21
Apr

Civil society groups call for action to ensure inequalities are not exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis

CAJ joins with other members of the Equality Coalition to call for political action to prevent the Covid-19 crisis from worsening inequalities in Northern Ireland. The Equality Coalition is a broad alliance of 90 civil society organisations and trade unions in Northern Ireland that collectively campaign to promote equality. The Coalition is jointly convened by...
17
Feb

Sectarianism: The Key Facts

Commissioned by the Equality Coalition, independent researcher Dr Robbie McVeigh has authored a piece of research on contemporary sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Across 50 pages, Sectarianism: The Key Facts looks at ‘institutional sectarianism’ in NI – especially where there is evidence of sectarianism in decision-making. Summary of key messages: Sectarian inequality continues to be real....
04
Feb

Analysis of the New Decade, New Approach agreement

After three years in the political wilderness, Northern Ireland once again has a functioning devolved government sitting at Stormont. A new cross-party deal, published in January 2020, paved the way for the restoration of the NI Assembly and Executive. The New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement was announced by the Irish and British governments on...
30
Jan

Launch of ‘Sectarianism: The Key Facts’

Mike Nesbitt MLA and Colin McGrath MLA invite you to the launch of Sectarianism: The Key Facts, a framework report on tackling institutional sectarianism in Northern Ireland. When: 12pm to 2pm, Monday 17 February 2020 Where: Room 115, Parliament Buildings, Stormont Commissioned by the Equality Coalition, independent researcher Dr Robbie McVeigh has authored a piece...
Cover of Just News Christmas 2019
20
Dec

Just News Christmas 2019

Inside this issue: Our Director, Brian Gormally, examines the rights implications of the landslide Conservative victory in the general election. There are also guest articles from NIWEP on the key anniversaries for women’s rights that will take place in 2020; WRDA on the fight to end sexual harassment; and NIHRC on the cumulative impact of...
11
Dec

CAJ Annual Report 2019

We are living in strange times, dominated by Brexit, but the work of CAJ has continued, unabated, over the last twelve months. In our latest annual report, CAJ’s key achievements from the last year are highlighted, including the establishment of two brand new projects to take our work forward. Introduction to the report: This has...

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