The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC)

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a Winner of the 2016/2017 Global Sustainable Development Award and Accredited as a Global 500 Sustainable Development Agencies of the year 2016/2017 in appreciation of its contribution towards Social-Economic Development of the Northern Ireland through promoting Human Rights in Northern Ireland in accordance with the United Nations Principles,upholding human rights standards and responsibilities in Northern Ireland. Awarded and Accredited by Public Opinions International (Uganda-East Africa).  

Public Opinions International is a Partner and Member of International Organisation for Educational Development (IOED) and International Police Commission which is is in  Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Newyork,USA).

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a national human rights institution with A status accreditation from the United Nations (UN). NIHRC is funded by United Kingdom government, but is an independent public body that operates in full accordance with the UN Paris Principles.

Established on the basis of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, we play a central role in supporting a society that, as it rebuilds following conflict, respects and upholds human rights standards and responsibilities. Human rights values and standards need to be at the heart of our society if we are to achieve well-being, peace and justice. We are Northern Ireland’s centre of excellence on human rights.

We hold government, elected representatives, statutory and other relevant organisations to account. To do this, we may work in partnership with these organisations and civil society.

Our Core Activities

As the national human rights institution (NHRI) in Northern Ireland, the Commission has a range of duties and responsibilities including contributing to the monitoring of international human rights treaties in Northern Ireland. The core aspects of our daily operation are fundamental to fulfilling our mission. They are key to our compliance with the United Nations Paris Principles on the role of a national human rights institution and the Nolan principles of ethical standards in public life.

Our statutory functions include:

  • Advising the Westminster government, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, and key agencies on legislation and compliance with human rights frameworks
  • Our work to promote awareness of human rights through education, training and research
  • Our international treaty monitoring work
  • Our legal advice work including taking strategic legal cases
  • Our engagement with other national human rights institutions in the UK
  • Our work as part of the Joint Committee with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)

Each year, the Commission reviews progress by government and public authorities with human rights laws and standards. Our Annual Statement, which is published in December, records progress on meeting human rights standards. The Annual Statement strongly informs our future work priorities.


In 2015, the Commission was elected the chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. This reflects the esteem in which the Commission is held internationally and is an important opportunity to share our own experiences, facilitate dialogue and learn from others to achieve direct benefits for the people of Northern Ireland.


The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is the National Human Rights Institution for Northern Ireland. Although funded by government, we are an independent public body.

Our job is to make sure government and other public bodies protect the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland. We also help people understand what their human rights are and what they can do if their rights are abused.

Why are we here?

The UK Government made a commitment to establish a Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was set up in 1999 following the introduction of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 .

We were the first national human rights institution in the UK.

The Commission’s powers are set out in legislation and its responsibilities as a national human rights institution are set out in the UN Paris Principles.

There are seven Commissioners. They are appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland following an open recruitment exercise. Commissioners should be as representative of the community in Northern Ireland as is practicable.

The appointments process is in line with that used for most senior public appointments in the UK and complies with guidance issued by the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Our Mission:

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission champions and guards the rights of all those who live in Northern Ireland.

The Principles that Underpin Our Work:

We promote and abide by the following core principles:

Building a Culture of Human Rights: A goal of human rights is to establish a society that embeds such rights at its heart. A culture of human rights is one where human rights values demonstrably guide society. The Commission is committed to fostering this culture in Northern Ireland. In doing so, it recognises the challenges presented in a society moving forward that has experienced a protracted and tragic conflict and where community divisions can run deep.

Legality and Independence: The Commission operates on the basis of international human rights law, in compliance with a statutory mandate and independently of the State. The Commission works for the promotion and protection of those human rights to which the United Kingdom is legally committed at the national, regional and international levels, and does so on the basis of the mandate conferred on it by law and in conformity with the UN Paris Principles.

Non-Discrimination and Equality: Human rights require that they can be enjoyed by everyone on the basis of non-discrimination and equality, a principle that is reinforced in Northern Ireland by the provisions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. The Commission honours this principle, above all, by protecting the most powerless in society addressing the needs of vulnerable individuals and those who are marginalised.

The Equal Status of Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Human rights, as recognised in the international treaties, have equal value and status and must be implemented in an integrated manner. The Commission respects this principle in its work and promotes full implementation in all engagements with the State and other partners.

Participation: Meaningful enjoyment of human rights must be based on the participation by those affected in any processes that may impact on their well-being. The Commission is committed to involving rights-holders in all relevant areas of its activities and it strives to promote broader participation across society.

Accountability: Accountability is central to human rights enforcement so decision making must be transparent. The Commission honours this requirement in its own actions. It demands similar standards in public life and calls to account all those with responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission promotes human rights compliant independent oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Partnership: The promotion and protection of human rights needs the commitment of all who live in Northern Ireland, mindful that rights are balanced with responsibilities. It requires the engagement of government (central, regional and local) elected representatives, statutory bodies and civil society. As a Paris Principles ‘A’ Status NHRI, the Commission plays a pivotal role in building and sustaining the necessary partnerships. The Commission recognises the importance of its partnerships with the other UN-accredited human rights institutions in developing human rights values.


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