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Human rights and the Agreement: how far have we come?

This is your 'heads up' for what ought to be a thought-provoking speech on human rights in Northern Ireland.

This year's Stephen Livingstone Lecture takes place next Wednesday (21 October) at 5:30pm, Room G07 in the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen's University. The lecture is named after Livingstone, a much-loved and missed Belfast-based human rights academic and activist.

The lecture will be given by Martin O'Brien, Director of the Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme at Atlantic Philanthropies, the massive trust fund (established by Irish-American billionare Chuck Feeney) which finances many great grass-roots human rights initiatives here and in the Republic, South Africa and the US.

O'Brien will be addressing the theme: "A stock-take: human rights and the Agreement – how far have we come?"

O'Brien's in a pretty good place to make the assessment. As a former Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), he helped put human rights on the domestic political agenda, by lobbying parties at home, but also by taking the human rights case to Washington, New York, Geneva and beyond.

When Hillary Clinton comes calling in 2009, it's at least in part a result of the campaigning done over decades in the US by O'Brien and others in the local human rights community. When you look at the human rights language in the Agreement, again it's there – in part at least – because his and others' campaigning helped put it there.

Eleven years on from the Agreement, there is much progress to report – policing for instance, but much still to be done – the Bill of Rights remains overdue. It'll be interesting to hear O'Brien's candid assessment.

The lecture is free and open to all and I encourage you to attend.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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