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

17
Nov

CAJ 40th anniversary celebration and AGM

A reflective event marking our 40th anniversary, featuring South African activist Albie Sachs as guest speaker. When: 10.30am to 12noon, Friday 10 December 2021 Where: Zoom (online only) Founded in 1981 at the height of the Troubles, CAJ has spent the last forty years striving to promote justice and protect human rights within Northern Ireland....
16
Nov

CAJ writes to NI Executive on vaccine passports

CAJ has written an open letter to NI Executive Ministers in response to the proposed introduction of a mandatory Covid-19 passport scheme in Northern Ireland. The letter is reproduced in full below: Dear Minister, Re. Vaccine Passports Given the Health Minister’s request to the NI Executive to consider making the production of a vaccine passport compulsory...
29
Sep

Complainants respond to ECNI’s investigation into the NIO legacy bill

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) have welcomed a report from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), published today (29 September 2021), which concludes the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) breached its Equality Scheme in relation to its proposed legacy bill. The ECNI investigation was triggered by a...
20
Jul

Written evidence on the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill

We have drafted written evidence in response to a call from the House of Commons General Committee on the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill. Our response mostly focuses on Clause 5 of the bill, which concerns the ‘Petition of Concern’ mechanism. We reflect on the proposed reforms to the Petition of...
05
Jul

Equality Coalition joint statement on the pandemic recovery

Civil society groups call for action to urgently address inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 and to prevent austerity from becoming part of NI’s pandemic recovery. The Equality Coalition, an alliance of more than 100 NGOs and trade unions, has issued an official statement urging decision makers to address inequality as part of the pandemic recovery following...
24
Jun

Written Evidence on the experience of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland

CAJ has provided written evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on its inquiry into the ‘The experience of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland’. At the time of the 2011 census, it was found that Northern Ireland was the least ethnically diverse part of the UK. Nonetheless, a significant percentage of the...
22
Jun

Briefing note on the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill: The Petition of Concern and Stormont’s’ other safeguards and vetoes

This briefing note was prepared for the Second Reading of the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill in the UK House of Commons. The bill deals with the Petition of Concern and a range of other assorted procedural issues related to devolution. Our briefing welcomes any move to seek to return the Petition...
14
Jun

CAJ and Conradh na Gaelige welcome decision by Stormont Standards Commissioner to investigate DUP Minister for no-show at North South Language Body

Rights NGOs, the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and Conradh na Gaelige, have today welcomed the decision by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards, Dr Melissa McCullough, to investigate a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct by Junior Minister Gordon Lyons MLA. The complaint relates to the failure of Mr Lyons...
07
Jun

The Right to Protest and NI Coronavirus regulations

During the pandemic, the main regulations impacting the right to protest have been the ‘restrictions on gatherings’ and (when still in force) the ‘stay at home’ rule. At times, there has been no specific exemption to accommodate protests, making them all effectively illegal. Currently (since 24 May 2021), provisions are in place allowing outdoor gatherings...

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