Extending human and civic rights

The Supreme Court’s decision on Northern Ireland’s abortion law – what now?

The Supreme Court’s decision on Northern Ireland’s abortion law – what now?

Kathryn McNeilly, Fiona Bloomer and Claire Pierson explain the background and implications of the recent ruling which, although found Northern Ireland’s abortion law to be incompatible with human rights law, dismissed the case on technical grounds.

The Irish Citizens’ Assembly on the 8th Amendment is a model for participatory democracy, which other democratic countries should follow

The Irish Citizens’ Assembly on the 8th Amendment is a model for participatory democracy, which other democratic countries should follow

Ireland’s referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment of its constitution, and so liberalise the country’s abortion laws, was preceded by a Citizens’ Assembly which recommended these reforms. This form of democratic participation, which crucially was state funded and informed the Irish government’s approach, is a model for producing better democratic decision making, argues Jack Bridgewater.

Ireland votes to repeal the 8th: will Northern Ireland be next to liberalise its abortion laws?

Ireland votes to repeal the 8th: will Northern Ireland be next to liberalise its abortion laws?

Ireland’s abortion referendum on 25 May resulted in a victory for the ‘Yes’ side campaigning to reform the country’s strict abortion laws by repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution. For Jennifer Thomson, the result underlines a dramatic transformation that has taken place in Irish society over recent decades, however it also shines a light on Northern Ireland, which now looks increasingly isolated in its lack of liberalisation around abortion and LGBT rights.

Repeal the 8th amendment to allow abortion in Ireland – this constitutional experiment has failed

Repeal the 8th amendment to allow abortion in Ireland – this constitutional experiment has failed

On 25 May, the Republic of Ireland votes in a referendum to decide whether to repeal the 8th amendment of its constitution, which effectively outlaws abortion. Fiona de Londras explains how the 8th amendment works, and what the proposed legal changes are.

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

Collateral damage or a direct hit? Democratic ideals in the age of Trump

How robust are American democratic institutions under Trump’s presidency? Jennifer Earl argues that, even if his actions and lies do not amount to a coordinated effort to undermine democracy, the effect will be to systematically weaken the institutions of US democracy in the long term.

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act

Reforming the Gender Recognition Act

In 2017, the British government announced it would consult on amending the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce the principle of self-determination for transgender people. With this process currently stalled amid increasingly acrimonious debates, Peter Dunne sets out the proposed legal reforms and points of contention.

Critical actors and abortion law: a group of individuals in Northern Irish politics obstructs change

Critical actors and abortion law: a group of individuals in Northern Irish politics obstructs change

There are various reasons why progress on legal abortion in Northern Ireland has been blocked over the years. Key among them is that individual politicians rule out any suggestion of change, writes Jennifer Thomson. She argues that more attention should be given to the actions of individual actors, considering their role can often be as important as that of political parties or institutions. 

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

One of the most contentious pieces of legislation to be put before Parliament – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – now faces scrutiny and probable amendments in the Lords. From a human rights perspective, writes Joelle Grogan (Middlesex University), one of the most concerning aspects of the Bill is the exclusion of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights from the corpus of EU law to be incorporated into UK law. She assesses the arguments being made to exclude it, concluding that the only plausible explanation for rejection of Charter rights is the rejection of rights.

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

If the quality of democracy is to be measured by the extent to which it constrains the economically dominant, then American democracy is failing, writes George Tyler. Recent research has shown how campaign financing is skewing policy influence towards top earners. This is in contrast to many northern European countries, which can offer practical models for the US to follow.   

Increasing ethnic minority representation: why both political parties and electoral districts matter

Increasing ethnic minority representation: why both political parties and electoral districts matter

National parliaments in Western democracies remain far whiter than the increasingly diverse populations they represent. Benjamin Farrer (Knox College) and Josh Zingher (Old Dominion University) find that the explanation for this lies in the interaction of local demographics and political parties, and that as a result centre-left parties in the US, UK and Australia have been more successful at getting ethnic minority candidates elected.