Considerable speculation has surrounded the impact of the Good Friday Agreement’s provisions on human rights upon the Conservative Government’s proposals for repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998. This Policy Paper seeks to demystify this aspect of the debate over the future of the Human Rights Act, examining the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as an international treaty and peace agreement and explaining its interrelationship with both the Human Rights Act and the Devolution Acts. Once some of the hyperbole that surrounds the Agreement and its attendant domestic legislation is removed, it can be seen that the impact of the Agreement is in some regards more extensive than has to date been recognised, whilst in other respects the Agreement has less impact than some of the supporters of the Human Rights Act claim. Reform of arrangements so fundamental to governance in the UK should not be taken lightly, but at present the offhand treatment of the place of the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Northern Ireland settlement generates just such a danger.
This comment examines the proposed UK constitutional changes proffered following the no-vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum from an international legal perspective. With a particular focus on the implications for Northern Ireland, this piece considers the implications of further devolution, proposed federalism, changes to the UK’s relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights, modifications of relations with the EU and the implications of change to the relationship with the Republic of Ireland. In looking at these issues through the lens of international law this comment brings a fresh perspective to questions of constitutional change for Northern Ireland