Coordinated Responses
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International and Regional Legal Framework

Última editado: January 14, 2019

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Many international, regional and national legal instruments require countries to protect women and girls from violence and to address it effectively.  These instruments may not explicitly identify coordination of essential services as a means of doing so, but the due diligence obligation of protection and prevention implies that the most effective measures available should be undertaken.  General Recommendation No. 19 of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women implies the need for an inter-agency response with the following language:

States parties should take all legal and other measures that are necessary to provide effective protection of women against gender-based violence, including, inter alia:

(i)     Effective legal measures, including penal sanctions, civil remedies and compensatory provisions to protect women against all kinds of violence, including inter alia violence and abuse in the family, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace;

(ii)  Preventive measures, including public information and education programmes to change attitudes concerning the roles and status of men and women;

(iii)   Protective measures, including refuges, counseling, rehabilitation and support services for women who are the victims of violence or are at risk of violence.

CEDAW, General Recommendation No. 19, (1992)

CEDAW, General Recommendation No. 35 (2017) further expands on the obligation of States in ensuring coordination.

A number of more recent international human rights agreements explicitly note that coordination is crucial to addressing violence against women effectively, including the agreed conclusions of the 57th Session of the Commission for the Status of Women.  The two boxes below present selected excerpts from these global and regional level agreements that illustrate these obligations.


Regional agreements and mechanisms that promote coordinated approaches to violence against women:


Article 4: The rights to life, integrity and security of the person

2. States Parties shall take appropriate and effective measures to:

(b) adopt such other legislative, administrative, social and economic measures as may be necessary to ensure the prevention, punishment and eradication of all forms of violence against women;

(c) identify the causes and consequences of violence against women and take  appropriate measures to prevent and eliminate such violence;

(f) establish mechanisms and accessible services for effective information, rehabilitation and reparation for victims of violence against women.

 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003)


We, the Ministers, and representatives of the Governments in South Asia […] hereby resolve to further strengthen our cooperation on a regional level AND to identify national initiative(s) that impact on the lives of women, and engage programme implementers and rights holders to […] build multi-level capacities of critical stake-holders for responding to the nuanced needs of women in sector programmes, for programme implementation and long term sustainability.

Dhaka Resolution, adopted at Seventh South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference Commemorating Beijing (2010)



·       Article 7 – Comprehensive and co-ordinated policies

  1. Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to adopt and implement State-wide effective, comprehensive and co-ordinated policies encompassing all relevant measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention and offer a holistic response to violence against women.

  2. Parties shall ensure that policies referred to in paragraph 1 place the rights of the victim at the centre of all measures and are implemented by way of effective co-operation among all relevant agencies, institutions and organisations.

  3. Measures taken pursuant to this article shall involve, where appropriate, all relevant actors, such as government agencies, the national, regional and local parliaments and authorities, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations.

Article 8 – Financial resources

Parties shall allocate appropriate financial and human resources for the adequate implementation of integrated policies, measures and programmes to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention, including those carried out by non-governmental organisations and civil society.

Article 10 – Co-ordinating body

Parties shall designate or establish one or more official bodies responsible for the co-ordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by this Convention. These bodies shall co-ordinate the collection of data as referred to in Article 11, analyse and disseminate its results.

Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (2011)

  • Member states should introduce, develop and/or improve where necessary, national policies against violence […] ensure that victims, without any discrimination, receive immediate and comprehensive assistance provided by a co-ordinated, multidisciplinary and professional effort [… and] promote co-operation between the police, health and social services and the judiciary system in order to ensure such co-ordinated actions, and encourage and support the establishment of a collaborative network of non-governmental organisations.

Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2002)5


  • Article 7

The States Parties condemn all forms of violence against women and agree to pursue, by all appropriate means and without delay, policies to prevent, punish and eradicate such violence and undertake to:

a)      refrain from engaging in any act or practice of violence against women and to ensure that their authorities, officials, personnel, agents, and institutions act in conformity with this obligation;

b)      apply due diligence to prevent, investigate and impose penalties for violence against women;

c)       include in their domestic legislation penal, civil, administrative and any other type of provisions that may be needed to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women and to adopt appropriate administrative measures where necessary;

d)      adopt legal measures to require the perpetrator to refrain from harassing, intimidating or threatening the woman or using any method that harms or endangers her life or integrity, or damages her property

e)      take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to amend or repeal existing laws and regulations or to modify legal or customary practices which sustain the persistence and tolerance of violence against women;

f)       establish fair and effective legal procedures for women who have been subjected to violence which include, among others, protective measures, a timely hearing and effective access to such procedures;

g)      establish the necessary legal and administrative mechanisms to ensure that women subjected to violence have effective access to restitution, reparations or other just and effective remedies; and

h)      adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to this Convention.

Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belem do Para” (1994)



International agreements and mechanisms that promote coordinated approaches to violence against women:

The most recent international agreement dedicated to prevention and elimination of VAWG, the agreed conclusions of the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, recognizes the need for coordinated multi-sectoral services:

(ddd) Establish comprehensive, coordinated, inter-disciplinary, accessible and sustained multisectoral services, programmes and responses at all levels, and with the support of all available technologies, for all victims/survivors of all forms of violence against women and girls based on their needs, that are adequately resourced and include effective and coordinated action by, as appropriate, police and the justice sector, legal aid services, health-care services, including sexual and reproductive health, and medical, psychological and other counseling services, including specialist services as appropriate, State and independent women’s shelters and counseling centres, 24-hour hotlines, social aid services, one-stop crisis centres, immigration services, child services, public housing services to provide low threshold, easy to reach and safe assistance for women and children, as well as assistance, protection and support through access to long-term accommodation, educational, employment and economic opportunities, and take steps to ensure the safety and security of health-care workers and service providers who assist and support victims/survivors of violence, and in cases of girl child victims ensure that such services and responses take into account the best interests of the child;

(eee) Further take measures to coordinate services through the establishment of processes for referral between services of victims/survivors while ensuring their confidentiality and safety, establish national benchmarks and timelines, and monitor their progress and implementation; as well as ensure access to coordinated multisectoral services, programmes and responses for all women and girls at risk of or subjected to violence;

Agreed Conclusions, 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2103), available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.

The United Nations updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice also contains guidance on coordination and governance of coordination among providers of Essential Services. This global instrument, adopted in 2010 by the General Assembly with the consensus of all UN Member States, recognizes the importance of adopting a systematic, comprehensive, coordinated, multisectoral and sustained approach to fighting violence against women, and urges Member States and other relevant stakeholders to (inter alia):

              16.(b) develop mechanisms to ensure a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, coordinated, systematic and sustained response to violence against women in order to increase the likelihood of successful apprehension, prosecution and conviction of the offender, contribute to the well-being and safety of the victim and prevent secondary victimization;

              19. (a) establish, fund and coordinate a sustainable network of accessible facilities and services for emergency and temporary residential accommodation, health services, including counseling and psychological care, legal assistance and other basic needs for women and their children who are victims of violence or who are at risk of becoming victims of violence;

              19. (f) promote collaboration and coordination among relevant agencies and services, including through the establishment, where possible, of specialized units specifically trained to deal with the complexities and sensitivities of victims involved in cases of violence against women where victims can receive comprehensive assistance, protection and intervention services, including health and social services, legal advice and police assistance; and

              21.(a) set up and strengthen mechanisms for systematic and coordinated data collection on violence against women.

United Nations General Assembly (2010), Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women, A/Res/65/228, annex.

Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women. 

Strategic Objective D.1, United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), reiterated in the United Nations Secretary-General (2006a) Report on Violence against Women, available in ArabicChinese, English, French, SpanishRussian

(1) States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

(2) Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

 Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Article 19.

[E]ffective protection requires comprehensive, integrated, coordinated multisectoral approaches involving multiple stakeholders, including women’s organizations, religious and community leaders, youth, men and boys, victim service workers and advocates, law enforcement personnel, corrections officials and forensic scientists, as well as legal, health and education professionals, and that such responses should avoid re-victimization, be empowering to the victim, be evidence-based and culturally sensitive, and integrate the specific and differentiated needs of women and girls who face multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination […and] establish[ing] a multidisciplinary, coordinated response to sexual assault that prevents the re-victimization of women and includes specially trained police, prosecutors, judges, forensic examiners, victim support services.

United Nations General Assembly (2011) Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: ensuring due diligence in protection, Resolution adopted by Human Rights Council, A/HRC/17/L.6.

 [E]ffective prevention of violence against women and girls requires action at all levels of government, the engagement of civil society, the involvement of men and boys and the adoption and implementation of multifaceted and comprehensive approaches that promote gender equality and empowerment of women, and integrate awareness, education, training, political will, legislation, accountability, targeted policies and programmes, specific measures to reduce vulnerability, data collection and analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and protection, support and redress for victims

United Nations General Assembly (2010a) Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: ensuring due diligence in prevention, Resolution adopted by Human Rights Council, A/HRC/RES/14/12.

We commit ourselves to accelerating progress to achieve Millennium Development Goal 3, including through […s]trengthening comprehensive national laws and policies as well as programmes to enhance accountability and raise awareness, prevent and combat all forms of violence against women and girls everywhere.

United Nations General Assembly (2010b) Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Resolution adopted following Millennium Summit of world leaders, A/RES/65/1.

All countries [should] adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans by 2015.

One of five key objectives of the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign (2008).

I recommend that all States develop a multifaceted and systematic framework to respond to violence against children which is integrated into national planning processes. A national strategy, policy or plan of action on violence against children with realistic and time-bound targets, coordinated by an agency with the capacity to involve multiple sectors in a broad-based implementation strategy, should be formulated.

United Nations Secretary-General (2006b) Report on Violence against Children, available in  ArabicChineseEnglish, Farsi, French, RussianSpanish.

National laws may also prescribe a coordinated response to violence against women and girls, and often can be an essential basis for effective coordination.  More information is available in this module regarding coordinated response mechanisms in laws, national action strategies, plans and policies.