Due Diligence Project

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Phase II Expert Group Meeting:

Applying and Instrumentalising the

Due Diligence Framework in

the Age of Digital Media


Florence, Italy

10-13 November 2014


DDP Phase II (2014-2017) is a natural outgrowth of Phase I of the Due Diligence Project, and builds upon its successes, outcomes and networks. Phase II seeks to instrumentalise the Due Diligence Framework at the national and sub-national level in six pilot countries across the world. It also seeks to respond to select requests for technical assistance from other countries/stakeholders, on how to integrate this Due Diligence Framework into particular themes and existing initiatives to combat violence against women. 


The Due Diligence Project and The Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights co-convened a four day workshop to discuss instrumentalization and application of the Due Diligence Framework to end violence against women. The Expert Group Meeting gathered experts and partners who would be working on implementing the Due Diligence Framework in Phase II of the Due Diligence Project (DDP Phase II) in select countries and contexts around the world attended by representatives from key Project partners from Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA and Zimbabwe. A representative from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and two participants working on violence against women on internet platforms also attended.


The experts participating at the meeting are drawn from civil society, the academia and critical stakeholders while implementing partners consist of those who are committed to working on implementing the Framework in their respective countries/areas of influence.


The Project Directors worked with participants to:

1. Understand the Due Diligence Framework as a tool to assess and discharge State obligation to end violence against women;

2. Integrate this Framework into new and existing strategies to eliminate violence against women by various stakeholders in their specific contexts on the ground;

3. Work with a variety of national level stakeholders committed to ending violence against women and help facilitate, foster, and strengthen cooperation among them;

4. Understand and implement all of the above in the context of the current digital age and digital security.


Outcomes

1. Enhanced understanding of the due diligence principle and the Due Diligence Framework for State accountability to end violence against women in the areas of prevention, protection, prosecution, punishment, and provision of redress;

2. Formulation of a strategy for applying and instrumentalising the Due Diligence Framework in participants’ particular context/country including outlines of tools and modules, tentative schedules over the next three years, identification of priorities, namely critical areas of concern in each of the target countries;

3.Renewed commitment of programme partners toward implementing DDP Phase II; and

4.Increased networking and collaboration among participants at the meeting and in their advocacy and work moving forward.


Participants were enthusiastic over the potential of the Due Diligence Framework. In evaluating the meeting, one participant said,

“This was a really really useful and energising meeting. I appreciated the active engagement of almost all of the partners and the DD team and was really struck by the level of the discussions and analysis (that were sustained till the very last day!). It felt like I was seeing light bulbs go off in everyone’s heads - mine included! I was exhausted when I got [to the end], but leave quite energised and excited about our future plans.”


In response to the question, “What would be most helpful to you in terms of collaboration with the Due Diligence Project?” one participant asked for more “[c]onceptual guidance in terms of integrating the Framework into organisational activities,” and another participant suggested, “A medium term research collaboration for the purpose of offering the government data and evidence to engage with and to later promote due diligence observation by the government.”



Expert Group Meeting:

Due Diligence and the Role of the State:

Discrimination against Women

in Family and Cultural Life


Florence, Italy

1-3 December 2014


Cultural rights are essential to the recognition and respect of human dignity and must include non-discrimination and equality principles. The State has a role to play in mediating these competing and, at times complementary, interests. For example, article 5 of the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) declares that States have an obligation to “take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women”.

The Due Diligence Project convened a small expert group meeting to further critically explore, analyse, and formulate strategies on human rights and its intersections with culture, religion with particular attention to their impact on the family, generally as well as the growing conservatism challenging women’s human rights and State obligation in addressing these challenges. Experts from 17 countries, working on diverse issues, from different approaches and across disciplines including civil society advocates, academics, inter-governmental organisations and UN mandate holders participated in this Expert Group Meeting.


Specifically the Expert Group Meeting was convened for the purpose of providing a platform for experts and representatives from key UN bodies and CSOs to come together to brainstorm and strategize on the issues described above, develop the way forward for civil society strategies on Due Diligence and Role of the State to Eliminate Discrimination against Women in Family and Cultural Life and provide input and recommendations on Due Diligence and the Role of the State to Eliminate Discrimination against Women in Cultural and Family Life to the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination against Women.


The meeting –

• Discussed the applicability of the due diligence principle and the Due Diligence Framework for State Accountability in the context of discrimination against women in family and cultural life;

•Critically examined the relationship between culture power and privilege and how cultural and religious discourses are created, reproduced and instrumentalised to challenge women’s human rights;

• Interrogated in whose interest culture is narrated or religious norms interpreted and enforced and the authorities that sanction specific cultural and religious narratives;

• Identified and challenged some of the current claims in favour of traditionalism, which reject the primacy of women’s individual human right to equality, in society and in the family, hence condoning discrimination against women;

• Examined the role of the State, whether by act or omission, in the elimination and/or the perpetuation of the above discrimination;

•Identified and shared opportunities and good practices in eliminating such discrimination.


Participants found the Due Diligence Framework to be invaluable. One participant said that it brought the “various ideas and threads from diverse contexts into one space”. Another participant found the Due Diligence Framework pre-empts excuses and justifications for discrimination and provides better protection for women’s rights.