The Good Friday Agreement is an agreement that ended the political conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted from the 1960s until the 1990s. The agreement dealt with sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, demilitarisation, justice, policing and the establishment of a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, allowing the free movement of goods and people. Two decades later, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, voted to leave the European Union, with the Republic of Ireland of course continuing as an EU member state. The Good Friday Agreement has played a large role in shaping Brexit negotiations, with preserving the Good Friday Agreement and therefore peace in Ireland being a central issue in the negotiation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA). Brexit negotiations took a harsh turn when Boris Johnson came to power, as he initially removed WA protections of a soft border in Ireland, and later put forward a bill to break international law in order to bypass treaty obligations to the EU concerning the Northern Ireland protocol of the WA. Many regard the UK government’s recent conduct in Brexit negotiations to put the Good Friday Agreement in jeopardy.
The United States’ president elect, Joe Biden, has Irish roots and has vowed that any post-Brexit US/UK trade deal will depend on the protection of the Good Friday agreement, but will he be able to deliver on this? Can he actually help protect Irish peace during the struggling Brexit negotiations?