Secretary of State announces appointment of new chief commissioner for Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Right Honourable Brandon Lewis CBE MP, has announced the appointment of Alyson Kilpatrick as the new Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Ms Kilpatrick will take up the appointment with effect from 1 September 2021.

Ms Kilpatrick is a Barrister specialising in public law, human rights, socio-economic rights and policing. She is a former Human Rights Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. She currently holds an appointment as Vice-Chair of the Northern Ireland Co-ownership.


The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (the ‘NIHRC’) was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, as part of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

The NIHRC was established in 1999 and operates as an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Northern Ireland Office.

The NIHRC is a national human rights institution with ‘A’ status accreditation from the United Nations (UN). Its powers are set out in legislation and its responsibilities as a national human rights institution are set out in the UN Paris Principles.

The NIHRC’s functions include keeping under review the adequacy and effectiveness in Northern Ireland of law and practice relating to the protection of human rights and promoting understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights in Northern Ireland. Further information about the work of the Commission can be found at:

Terms of appointment

  • This position is for a period of five years ending on 31 August 2026.
  • The position receives an annual remuneration of £74,912.
  • The position is pensionable.

Political Activity

All appointments are made on merit and with regards to the statutory requirements. Political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity in defined categories to be made public.

Ms Kilpatrick has declared that she has not been politically active in the last five years.


The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointment (OCPA) regulates appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Statutory Requirements

The Secretary of State makes appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in accordance with the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

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