Charter debate: why have one at all?

We’ve had a few good starters to the e-debate, raising questions about the precise nature of any proposed instrument. There is some scepticism over the workablity/desirablity of an enforceable document. Over the next fortnight we’ll be examining four general questions, which will help frame the discussions to be initiated at the Seminar in UCC this Saturday. And, in turn, we’ll be bringing you informed perspectives that arise from the seminar next week.From Colin Harvey

Ø What does the Agreement prescribe and what would it add?

What is required by the Agreement? And what understanding of human rights is contained in it? Are we talking about measures to protect the majority community in Northern Ireland in the event of a change in constitutional status? What could the Charter add? How will it fit with existing human rights guarantees? Should we even be discussing this prior to getting a Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland?

These are only some questions which could be raised and which must be answered during the process. The reference in the Agreement is, of course, vital. But what will the Charter add to existing guarantees? Can the Charter process bring all communities into the conversation?

The obvious answer is that the Charter could make real the commitment to equivalence in the Agreement. It could also offer values within which to frame future co-operation on the island. It could provide guarantees to the two main communities in Northern Ireland that their rights will be respected in the event of a change in constitutional status.


What background arguments will support the proposed Charter? Will they be persuasive across a range of communities? How can we ensure that the process is inclusive and effective?