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

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...
29
Apr

Covid Conversations – Human Rights in a Pandemic

Last year, the Equality Coalition teamed up with the Transitional Justice Institute and Human Rights Consortium to organise webinars examining human rights issues brought into sharp focus by the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally intended as a limited series, the webinars continued for far longer than we originally expected (much like the pandemic itself). Events were held...
15
Apr

CAJ cautions against the use of vaccine passports

CAJ concerned vaccine passport app could discriminate and be ID card by stealth CAJ has urged the NI Executive to consider the human rights implications of requiring people in Northern Ireland to carry a vaccine ‘passport’ to prove they have been immunised against Covid-19. We have analysed the proposals for a ‘digital certificate’ of vaccination,...
02
Mar

Equality Coalition submission on Programme for Government outcomes and draft budget

The Equality Coalition has finalised its submission on the Programme for Government (PfG) outcomes and draft budget (including departmental screenings/EQIAs). Given their interlinking nature, this submission responds to a number of different, concurrent consultations at once. The submission examines the rights and equality implications of current plans, including whether the Section 75 statutory equality duty...
Cover of the 2020 annual report
11
Dec

CAJ Annual Report 2020

Since our last Annual Report, the world has changed. A pandemic grips the planet, with over 68 million cases of Covid-19 infection and over one and a half million deaths caused by the virus. This is the most significant change on a global level and there are many consequences for human rights, negative and positive....
19
Nov

Briefing note for the Biden-Harris Transition Team: Brexit and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement, human rights and equality laws in Northern Ireland

CAJ joins with other civil society groups to present a briefing note on Northern Ireland to the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Representatives of civic society groups from across the island of Ireland welcome the President-elect’s continued support for the Good Friday Agreement, most recently reaffirmed in his congratulatory calls with An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Prime...
23
Oct

Written Evidence to the NI Assembly Ad Hoc Committee on the Bill of Rights from the Equality Coalition Co-Conveners

A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland was first promised in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, but progress towards its development has repeatedly stalled. The establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bill of Rights at Stormont earlier this year represents a fresh attempt to move things forward. On 22 October 2020, CAJ and...
13
Oct

Everyone Equal – new collaborative campaign launches on human rights

CAJ is part of a new collaborative campaign with three other human rights organisations to bring the message of fairness and equality to all people living in Northern Ireland. Along with the Human Rights Consortium, PPR, and the PILS Project, we’ve launched the Everyone Equal campaign to raise the awareness and public understanding of human...

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