How CAJ works
Our method of working
CAJ’s standard method of working blends in-depth research and analysis with policy formation and advocacy. We apply this method to every rights and equality issue we are seeking to address.
1. International standards
We ensure our work is grounded from the very beginning in international human rights standards. We research international law, analyse which standards are applicable to the particular situation, and lay them out clearly.
2. Legal and social research
We research the contemporary reality in NI society, looking at the legal situation, any guidelines or other policy formulations, and the social reality on the ground. This involves high quality legal research and sometimes formal social research to gather evidence about the nature and extent of any violations of rights standards. It will also involve the collation of evidence arising from the lived experience of people in NI, sometimes through collaboration with other civil society organisations.
Any gap between international standards and reality is analysed and suggestions developed within CAJ for solutions that could remedy the situation. These may be formalised into recommendations to relevant public authorities and/or drafted into policy statements.
4. Advocacy, lobbying, and litigation
We engage in advocacy, lobbying, and (when appropriate) litigation, with the object of bringing reality more into line with the human rights standards. Advocacy involves disseminating our policy positions publicly and in appropriate forums. This includes submissions and responses to international human rights monitoring mechanisms, as well as lobbying to gain the support of politicians and other significant decision makers for our positions. Litigation is pursued If needed (where this is feasible) and can help implement policy proposals or can open up new opportunities for advocacy.
Our guiding principals
Quality assurance is fundamental to producing authoritative policy advice. All of our major pieces of work are peer reviewed by external experts in a relevant field. In addition, virtually all of our work is carried out in collaboration with other civil society organisations, academics, or individual experts.
We work for human rights-based solutions, not just critiques. We aim to propose practical, human rights compliant measures to meet identified needs. Part of this may involve being a ‘critical friend’ to institutions within Northern Ireland. It may also involve the production of guides, models, or proposals that could, if implemented, provide solutions to difficult problems.
CAJ’s theory of change is to assist, convince, and influence those who can make a difference in practice, policy, and legislation. Most often, the targets of our advocacy and lobbying are individuals and agencies with significant roles in government at different levels, as well as relevant legislators. We hope to help cultivate a culture of human rights within NI.
Long term, CAJ aims to become an established centre of excellence in terms of quality research and policy development.
Our main policy areas
While CAJ’s work can be very broad at times and we aim to proactively address rights and equality issues as they arise, we are currently focusing on a number of key policy areas (which are set out in our Strategic Plan). These are:
CAJ supports democratic, progressive governance in Northern Ireland.
Policing and Justice
CAJ promotes a culture of accountability within policing, criminal justice, and public administration in NI.
Legacy of the Past
CAJ works for a just resolution to the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland.
CAJ stands against prejudice, including all forms of racism, sectarianism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and disablism.
CAJ advocates for the development of a fair, humane immigration system in Northern Ireland.
CAJ works to advance equality in Northern Ireland.