The Ryan report said abuse in institutions in the Irish Republic was 'endemic'
Amnesty International has called for an inquiry into the extent of child abuse in Northern Ireland institutions run by both the state and the churches.
Its NI executive director told the SDLP conference the government should comply with its "international obligations".
The call comes after the Ryan Report in the Irish Republic which uncovered decades of institutional abuse.
The NI Assembly has voted for a similar inquiry and Amnesty wants the Executive and UK government to make it a reality.
The Ryan Report accused the Irish Republic's educational authorities, health boards and religious orders of failing to protect children or to investigate complaints.
Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director, Patrick Corrigan, said that "while Ryan stopped at the border, the abuse of children did not".
He added: "We know this from the stream of Northern Irish victims and survivors now coming forward with credible stories of horrific abuse and neglect."
And Colm O'Gorman, the organisation's executive director, told the annual conference in Newcastle that as well as prosecuting individual abuse cases, it was also important to "learn the lessons of past failures".
He said that inquiries in Wales and the Irish Republic had led to "significant advances" in child protection and children's rights.
Any inquiry should be "independent, impartial and effective", he added.