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

15
Mar

Local Councils, Obligations and the Irish Language: A Framework for Compliance

Working with Conradh na Gaeilge and Ulster University, we have produced a report documenting how commitments made by the UK government in relation to the Irish language have been put into practice by councils in Northern Ireland. Local councils have an important role to play in fulfilling state duties in relation to the Irish language....
14
Feb

Evidence on the implications of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill for Common Travel Area rights

Since the EU referendum, the UK government has consistently emphasised that the ‘associated rights’ of the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland will provide British and Irish citizens with reciprocal rights across the two jurisdictions after Brexit. However, independent legal analysis has highlighted that, in several areas, rights for Irish citizens in...
06
Feb

NI-born Irish citizens NOT entitled to apply to retain EU rights under EU Settlement Scheme due to being British Citizens – Home Office Minister

Only Irish citizens who are not also British citizens can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for long-term protection of their rights, according to the Home Office Minister Caroline Nokes in her response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Labour MP John Grogan. Under the current Home Office position that Northern Ireland-born people should be...
04
Feb

Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on the UK’s 8th Periodic Report

Periodically, the UK is reviewed for its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which it ratified in 1986. Through ratifying the treaty, the UK committed itself to taking action to end discrimination against women. The eighth periodic review of the UK is currently in progress. On...
29
Jan

Post-Brexit Citizenship Status: Divided by the Rules?

When: 10am-4pm, Monday 4 March 2019. Where: Moot Court Room, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. This one-day conference from BrexitLawNI and the Equality Coalition will examine the risks of hardened entitlement boundaries between different groups of citizens in post-Brexit Northern Ireland. The existing paradigm of two main citizenship categories (EU and non-EU) will be...
25
Jan

Written Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry on Abortion Law in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, abortion is regulated by outdated legislation, including Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861. Abortion is only lawful where necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or where there is a risk of real and serious adverse effects on the woman’s physical or mental health,...
23
Jan

Opening statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality

CAJ Director Brian Gormally appeared today before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to discuss the issues and potential risks raised by Brexit in terms of human rights and equality in Ireland. Attending the same meeting were representatives of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality...
10
Dec

CAJ Annual Report 2018

CAJ highlights another year spent promoting justice and protecting rights in our Annual Report 2018. It’s been an eventful twelve months for the CAJ team, not least because of the human rights implications of the UK’s impending exit from the EU. Introduction to the report: People in Northern Ireland are sometimes accused, not always unjustly,...
20
Nov

Equality Coalition Panel Discussion: Attacks on human rights defenders in Northern Ireland in 2018

When: 11am to 1pm, Tuesday 11 December 2018 Where: UNISON, Galway House, Belfast As part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival 2018, the Equality Coalition invite to you to a panel discussion on the increasingly hostile environment faced by human rights defenders. Online abuse, trolling and threats have become common place in the digital...

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