Accepted paper:

From Soft to Hard law: international minority rights instruments and the drafting of a bill of rights for Northern Ireland

Author:

Elizabeth Craig (Sussex University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the use of soft law by those involved in the drafting of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, drawing in particular upon the author's experiences as legal advisor to the Language, Culture and Identity Working Group of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the use of soft law by those involved in the drafting of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, drawing in particular upon the author's experiences as legal advisor to the Language, Culture and Identity Working Group of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. The first part of the paper compares the content and status of three international minority rights instruments (the CSCE/OSCE Copenhagen Document (which includes a section on minorities), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Minorities 1992 and the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities 1995). This part of the paper reflects on the extent to which each instrument can be appropriately categorised as either 'hard' or 'soft' law and aims to challenge some of the assumptions underlying any prima facie attempt at such a categorisation. This is explored further in the second part of the paper, which highlights some of controversies that have arisen in debates over the content and scope of provisions addressing language, culture and identity issues in any future Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland. This part of the paper focuses in particular on some of the challenges presented by calls for the incorporation of the Framework Convention into domestic law and questions the appropriateness of using international 'soft law' in a bill of rights drafting process.

panel W021
'Soft law' practices, anthropologists and legal scholars