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The Role of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

What is the NIHRC?

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) was set up in Northern Ireland in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement. It is an independent public body that promotes and protects the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland. The NIHRC also helps people to understand what their human rights are and what steps they can take if they feel that their human rights have been violated.

What does the NIHRC do?

1. Advises government

It advises the Westminster Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, and key agencies on legislation and compliance with human rights frameworks to ensure that human rights are upheld.

2. Promotes human rights through education

It promotes an awareness of human rights in places like schools or the police service. For example through workshops to promote human rights or through studying human rights as part of LLW classes. The NIHRC also produces educational resources.

3. Provides advice on human rights on legal cases

The Commission has the power to conduct investigations to assist individuals if a case is going to court; human rights advice may be given to ensure human rights are not being violated.

4. Monitors international treaties

It refers to International Human Rights Agreements and monitors and reports to the United Nations and Council of Europe (Europe's leading human rights organisation).

5. Works with human rights institutions in the UK

Working with the National Human Rights Institution in the UK as part of a global network of more than 105 NHRIs that play an important role locally and internationally to protect human rights and hold governments to account for their human rights obligations.

6. Is part of the Joint Committee with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Committee (IHREC)

As part of the Good Friday Agreement, the NIHRC meets with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. When they meet, they are the Joint Committee that discusses and considers human rights that affect the island of Ireland.

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