Who We Are

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is a national human rights institution with A status accreditation from the United Nations (UN).

The 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, the NIHRC has a central role in supporting a society that, as it rebuilds following conflict, respects and upholds human rights standards and responsibilities.

The NIHRC’s role is to make sure government and other public bodies protect the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland. It also helps people understand what their human rights are, and what they can do if their rights are abused.

What We Do

The NIHRC’s role is to promote awareness of the importance of human rights in Northern Ireland, to review existing law and practice and to advise the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly on what legislative or other measures ought to be taken to protect human rights in Northern Ireland.


  • holds government, elected representatives, statutory and other relevant organisations to account. To do this, the NIHRC may work in partnership with these organisations and civil society.
  • is able to conduct investigations, enter places of detention (subject to a requirement to give notice), and to compel individuals and agencies to give oral testimony or to produce documents.
  • undertakes international treaty monitoring work. It monitors and reports on compliance to the United Nations and Council of Europe. It aims to secure additional commitments from the United Kingdom Government to ratify and remove all reservations for human rights treaties and regional European instruments.
  • has the power to assist individuals when they are bringing court proceedings, to intervene in proceedings and to bring court proceedings itself.
  • undertakes work as part of the Joint Committee with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).
  • engages with other national human rights institutions in the UK.
  • advises on the scope for a bill of rights to supplement the European Convention on Human Rights and to take into consider the circumstances of Northern Ireland.

Legal Clinic

The NIHRC operate an advice clinic every Wednesday morning from 9.30am to 1pm.

The clinic operates on an appointment only basis. Appointments may be booked by contacting the NIHRC by: telephone (028 90243987); and email (info@nihrc.org).

If the NIHRC is unable to take up your case, it will try to refer you to a more appropriate agency that can help.

Annual Statement of Human Rights in Northern Ireland

Each year, the NIHRC reviews progress by government and public authorities with human rights laws and standards. Its Annual Statement, which is published in December, records progress on meeting human rights standards.

The Commissioners

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.

The Chief Executive

The Chief Executive of the NIHRC is Dr David Russell, who has been in post since April 2017.



Temple Court,
39 North Street,
Northern Ireland,

Telephone: +44 (0) 28 9024 3987
Fax: +44 (0) 28 9024 7844
Email: info@nihrc.org