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The Due Diligence Framework: State Accountability Framework for Eliminating Violence against Women

AWID spoke to Zarizana Abdul Aziz and Janine Moussa, co-directors of the Due Diligence Project to learn more about their recent publication.

Given the rise of extremism all around the world in the name of religion and culture there is an increasing need to hold States to account for their obligations to ensure that violations of human rights committed by States or non-State actors are eliminated. Zarizana Abdul Aziz and Janine Moussa, co-directors of the Due Diligence Project have developed the Due Diligence Framework: State Accountability Framework for Eliminating Violence against Women, which aims to aims to facilitate the use of the principle of 'due diligence' by creating an accountability framework, and detailed guidelines for State accountability using the due diligence principle's "5Ps": prevention, protection, prosecution, punishment, and provision of redress.

In examining the relationship between violence against women, culture and religion, this due diligence principle is all the more important as States have tremendous power, ability and interest in moulding, tolerating, encouraging and developing values and culture. States should take measures to protect women and girls against negative social and cultural practices that are harmful to their well-being, dignity and health.

Under the current public international law, States must exercise the due diligence principle to promote, protect, and fulfill human rights – an obligation that extends to not only preventing human rights abuses by the State and its actors, as well as non-State actors. This extension recognizes that violence against women (VAW), whether committed by State or non-State actors constitutes human rights violations, and as such obliges the State to enter the so-called ‘private sphere’ where most instances of violence against women take place. This is a sphere from which the State had traditionally been barred, preferring to limit itself only to the public sphere.

While the principle of due diligence is by no means a new concept, Abdul Aziz and Moussa identify the need for a greater understanding of the international monitoring mechanisms, and propose guiding principles that are concrete and measurable across regions. Indeed, their research methodologies and strategies involved bringing together the lessons that diverse civil society organizations had learned, and unpacking the concept of due diligence through the concrete experiences of said organizations – primarily women’s groups – creating an invaluable tool that provides an intersectional approach to VAW, and one that acknowledges cultural diversity in its proposed strategies to combat such violence.

By clearly laying out actionable elements per “P”, bolstered by country illustrations and good practices, the tool is one that can be used both to hold States accountable and by women’s groups in enhancing their own strategies and ways forward.

To read more about the tool, click here: Due Diligence Framework: State Accountability Framework for Eliminating Violence against Women.