Rights and Devolution after Brexit
44 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2018
Date Written: September 26, 2018
This report records the second roundtable meeting of the Brexit and Rights Engagement Network (BREN) that took place on Wednesday 26th of September 2018 at the School of Law of Queen’s University Belfast. Attendees at the roundtable included network members, fellow academics, representatives of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, law professors and students from the Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, and NGOs.
There is a tendency to consider rather complex questions of reserved and devolved competences through a centralised lens. This is particularly true for the Northern Irish context where international obligations undertaken in the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement complicate things further. But even in the Scottish and Welsh contexts, a traditional centralist view of constitutional arrangements is not shared by many scholars in the devolved nations and is no longer appropriate. Indeed, Brexit has focused awareness in the devolved nations that rights protection can and should happen through devolved legislation. The incorporation of the UN Children’s Rights Convention in Wales and the recent inauguration of the Scottish First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership are examples for this development.
The roundtable dealt with these and other issues as elaborated in this report. The report is divided in two thematic Parts: Part I on Brexit and Devolution and Part II on Rights Protection at the Devolved Levels, each followed by a brief discussion with questions and answers. Part I featured presentations on a more general level of devolution with respect to Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. Part II featured presentations focusing on more specific issues of rights and Brexit. In particular, presentations were made with respect to the Good Friday Agreement, the possibility of a devolved bill of rights, the incorporation of international human rights, and criminal law cooperation. This report follows the structure of the roundtable in terms of sequence and titles of the presentations.
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