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This chapter primarily considers the way in which the Protocol Article 2 addresses human rights and equality issues in Northern Ireland, but also describes how the TCA supplements the Protocol in several respects, addressing issues that were left unaddressed by the Protocol, in particular issues concerning the protection of labour and social rights (in the ‘level playing field’ provisions) and the status of the European Convention on Human RIghts (ECHR). These will be considered more briefly in order to provide a more complete map of the new architecture of human rights and equality in Northern Ireland currently in place, without attempting to be comprehensive.
The WA has several common provisions which set out various obligations as to how the WA (and the Protocol as an integral part of the WA) is to be interpreted and applied. This chapter explores the duty of ‘good faith’ and the duty of ‘sincere co-operation’, which feature in Article 5 WA. This provides, in part, that the EU and the UK ‘shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement’. In addition, Article 5 provides that this obligation of good faith ‘is without prejudice to the application of Union law pursuant to this Agreement, in particular the principle of sincere cooperation’.
The purpose of this Introduction is to set out some of the basic background needed to understand the scope and content of the Protocol, and how this book attempts systematically to describe and analyze it. The Protocol is most appropriately seen in the context of the desire to preserve the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement (1998 Agreement), the changing politics of the UK Parliament and government over the relevant period, and the subsequently negotiated Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).