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

12
May

Dealing with hate expression in public space in Northern Ireland

Hate expression remains prevalent in public space in Northern Ireland, causing significant harm to the communities it targets. Racist and sectarian hate expression is particularly common, but hate expression targeting the LGBT community and women also regularly appears in public space. Because of its intimidating nature, hate expression is a significant contributor to housing segregation,...
13
Apr

Equality Coalition Election Hustings

A hustings event in anticipation of the 2022 NI Assembly Election When: 2pm to 4pm, Thursday 28 April 2022 Where: The Lab, The MAC, Belfast AND online In advance of the Northern Ireland Assembly Election on 5 May 2022, the Equality Coalition is hosting a (hybrid) hustings event in The MAC, Belfast. Each of the...
04
Apr

Conference report – A Renaissance of the Peace Process? What kind of society do we need?

A Renaissance of the Peace Process? What kind of society do we need? was a one day working conference held on 27 September 2019 in the Canada Room, Queen’s University Belfast. It was organised by CAJ in collaboration with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), QUB Human Rights Centre, and Senator George J. Mitchell...
14
Mar

Submission to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council consultation on dual language street signage

In 2018, the Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council voted for an ‘English only’ street signage policy. CAJ and Conradh na Gaeilge (CnaG) advised the Council that this policy was unlawful, but it was only withdrawn in the face of Judicial Review proceedings. Another draft policy was withdrawn in 2019 after major concerns were again raised....
03
Mar

Response to Consultation on the Revised Recommendations of the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner

In January 2022, the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner published Revised Recommendations for public consultation on the number, boundaries, and names of the 11 local government districts, as well as the wards into which each district is sub-divided. This submission is a joint response to the revised recommendations from CAJ and Conradh na Gaeilge (CnaG). In...
25
Feb

Submission on Belfast City Council’s proposed policy on dual language street signs

CAJ has responded to the consultation held by Belfast City Council on the Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) of its proposed policy on dual language street signs. While we welcome some elements of the new policy – including the aim of the policy being expressly tied to promoting minority language rights and linguistic diversity – we...
14
Feb

CAJ responds to publication of Bill of Rights report

Bill of Rights blocked again – CAJ responds to the report published today by the Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights. CAJ Director, Brian Gormally, said, “The report from the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Bill of Rights shows that progress towards a Bill of Rights has again been blocked by those...
26
Jan

Can Stormont Rollback the Home Office ‘Hostile Environment’? Legal Research Report Launch

Join us for the launch of a new legal research paper by barrister Mark Bassett on the application of the ‘hostile environment’ in NI. When: 10.30am to 12.30pm, Wednesday 23 February 2022 Where: Zoom (online only) Commissioned by the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) Immigration Project, barrister Mark Bassett has authored a legal...
18
Jan

Equality Coalition ‘Policy Asks’ 2022

The Equality Coalition has developed a series of ‘Policy Asks’ for Northern Ireland, which have a particular emphasis on rights and equality. These ‘asks’ are based on a recent mapping exercise by CAJ, which examined the status of rights-based commitments from the agreements of the NI peace process. Download the document here. The Equality Coalition...

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