Northern Ireland: Civil society groups brief Biden Transition Team on Brexit threat to human rights and equality

November 19, 2020

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

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 Minister Boris Johnson.

Respect for the Good Friday Agreement will need to ensure no Border infrastructure, but much more than that.  It is also a peace agreement and a basis for ensuring no return to the breaches of human rights and equality that scarred Northern Ireland’s past. Securing guarantees for these rights was, and remains, a cornerstone of the Agreement, and the basis for continued peace on the island of Ireland.



Civic society groups have long been extremely concerned by the impact that Brexit is having on the protection of the rights and equality provisions in the Good Friday Agreement, because European law has long been a critically important support for such rights. As a result, we fought hard for a provision in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (in the Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol) that guaranteed that there would be no diminution of such rights as a result of Brexit.

As we near the end of the transition period, and with an EU-UK Future Relationship Agreement hanging in the balance, we fear that these protections are now under significant threat, in three particular respects:


In more detail, here is why we are concerned:

We would be grateful for the continued support of the President-elect and his transition team in securing necessary protections for the Good Friday Agreement, particularly its human rights and equality provisions, as the effects of Brexit continue to materialise. In particular, we would urge the transition team where possible to initiate a deeper conversation with British and Irish representatives, bringing the specific points made above to their attention. We stand ready to provide further assistance and analysis for the President-elect’s team in relation to any of these areas.


Amnesty International Ireland

Amnesty International United Kingdom

Centre for Cross Border Studies

Children’s Law Centre

Children’s Rights Alliance

Committee on the Administration of Justice

Community Work Ireland

Equality Coalition

Free Legal Advice Centres

Human Rights Consortium

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action

Social Change Initiative


Downloadable Resources

Download Brexit & the Protection of Human Rights: Briefing note for the Biden-Harris Transition Team

Brexit & the Protection of Human Rights: Briefing note for the Biden-Harris Transition Team


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