Special Rapporteur on VAW: The Due Diligence standard as a tool for the elimination of violence against women
UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
The failure of international human rights law to adequately reflect and respond to the experiences and needs of women has stimulated much debate on the mainstream application of human rights standards. This has resulted in the transformation of the conventional understanding of human rights and the doctrine of State responsibility.
The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as well as other international instruments adopted the concept of due diligence, in relation to violence against women, as a yardstick to assess whether the State has met its obligation. Under the due diligence obligation, States have a duty to take positive action to prevent and protect women from violence, punish perpetrators of violent acts and compensate victims of violence. However, the application of due diligence standard, to date, has tended to be State-centric and limited to responding to violence when it occurs, largely neglecting the obligation to prevent and compensate and the responsibility of non-State actors.
The current challenge in combating violence against women is the implementation of existing human rights standards to ensure that the root causes and consequences of violence against women are tackled at all levels from the home to the transnational arena. The multiplicity of forms of violence against women as well as the fact that this violence frequently occurs at the intersection of different types of discrimination makes the adoption of multifaceted strategies to effectively prevent and combat this violence a necessity.
In this regard, the potential of the due diligence standard is explored at different levels of intervention: individual women, the community, the State and the transnational level. At each level, recommendations for relevant actors are highlighted. The report concludes that if we continue to push the boundaries of due diligence in demanding the full compliance of States with international law, including to address the root causes of violence, against women and to hold non-State actors accountable for their acts of violence, then we will move towards a conception of human rights that meets our aspirations for a just world free of violence.