As Final Brexit Nears, We Must Pay Attention To Northern Ireland

Michael Posner

By Michael Posner

By Michael Posner

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket in the United States, public attention here has turned to the absence of a coordinated federal response, aggravated by President Trump’s resistance to an orderly transition to the new administration. The paralysis in our political process affects more than Americans, however. It can be felt across the world, including in Northern Ireland. 

For a quarter century beginning in 1969, Northern Ireland was racked by violent conflict in a dispute between Protestants and Catholics about their loyalties to the United Kingdom or a united Ireland. In 1994, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, working on behalf of the U.S. government, helped to broker peace, with the UK and Irish governments, which was codified in the Good Friday Agreement. The breakthrough accord called for the restructuring of the local police force and made important commitments to protect human rights, and to promote economic equality for everyone in Northern Ireland. British and Irish membership in the European Union underpinned the rights framework for the agreement. European financial support and engagement also helped to promote economic progress throughout the Island, both North and South and to cement the peace.   

Now, there is growing concern that the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, Brexit, is threatening to set back a hard-won peace in Northern Ireland and the greater prosperity that came with it. A December 31 deadline looms over the UK as it scrambles to address the last messy details of Brexit, the most vexing of which involves economic, security, and human rights issues tied to Ireland.

Read the full Forbes article.
Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.