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What is the New Common Charter?

The ‘New Common Charter for Cooperation within and between these islands’ aims to empower civic society to drive cooperation, North-South and East-West. The Charter is essentially a set of agreed principles for civic society organisations participating in North-South and East-West cooperation. This includes, but is not limited to, recognising the importance of :

  • Increasing opportunities to share information, knowledge of policy and best-practice within and across these islands
  • Improving policy-making by matching it to realities on the ground
  • Identifying cross-border opportunities to collaborate to solve shared problems or exploit common resources
  • Engaging with and supporting human rights, particularly for the most isolated and marginalised in our communities
  • Facilitating the exploration and celebration of a community’s culture and heritage with a view to future cooperation.

How did it come about?

With the generous support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund, and the Community Relations Council, CCBS facilitated an action research project that resulted in the development of the New Common Charter for Cooperation Within and Between these Islands, representing grassroots support for collaborative and sustainable North-South and East-West relations.

The “old” Common Chapter represented a high-level policy dimension through its inclusion in Ireland’s National Development Plan and Northern Ireland’s Structural Funds Plan (2000-2006). However, through this project CCBS worked with a range of civil society organisations between 2014 and 2019 from both sides of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border, as well as organisations in Great Britain, to produce the New Common Charter that voices the aspirations and needs of civil society. The charter continues to be supported and utilised in 2022.

Having disseminated the draft New Common Charter to other community groups on the island of Ireland, as well as to other stakeholders, and  gathered feedback on its contents, the participating groups from Ireland and Northern Ireland then undertook a process of engagement with counterparts from England, Scotland and Wales. This stage concluded with an evaluation seminar, where representatives from all the groups worked on a final version of the New Common Charter.

The final stage involved representatives from the groups promoting the New Common Charter with policy and decision-makers on the island of Ireland and Great Britain.

This work resulted in informed and motivated community organisations on the island of Ireland and Great Britain being able to engage with policies and policy-makers on the value of cross-border cooperation and ensuring that it addresses the needs of civic society. While achieving political support for cross-border cooperation was an important goal, this project helps to create the conditions at community level for independent engagement in cross-border initiatives.

The principles and areas of concern within the Charter were last updated in June 2022 in line with the wishes of its supporter organisations after a series of sector based workshops.

Download a copy of the New Common Charter here.

How can organisations support the Charter?

There is no cost involved in supporting the Charter. Each supporter organisation will receive a copy of the Charter and have its logo added to the website. We will then promote and champion supporter events, projects, and collaborations which align with the Charter’s principles of cross-border cooperation. Most importantly, the Charter acts as an informal network of civic society groups committed to identifying cross-border opportunities to collaborate to solve shared problems or exploit common resources.

A live list of current supporters can be viewed below.

To learn more or to become a supporter of the Charter, please email