For the time being, it seems that caution in relation to the Assembly is well-placed. The Citizens’ Assembly in and of itself cannot be interpreted as representing the will of the Irish people or as portraying an accurate idea of what the Eighth Amendment is about, and its terms should not provide the framework for any future legislation drafted by the Oireachtas.
Our previous post on this topic discussed the less-than-respectable qualifications of the UN Human Rights Committee, ending with the question as to whether, even if the HRC is a complete mess of an institution, it still got it right on the Irish abortion question. It didn’t. One reason for this relates to the sources of international law.
The HRC has arrived at some well-reasoned views, but also some pretty dreadful ones: the string of Jamaican death row cases are good examples, as is the Libyan debacle. In 1995, Libya entered a short and dishonest report on its ICCPR progress, just after the dictator Mu’ammer Gaddafi had ordered the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad. The HRC issued its verdict three years later, complimenting Libya on its treatment of women and expressing only polite concern at the murder and torture of the regime’s opponents and at the complete lack of an independent legal system.