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Mandate coordination through legislation

Última editado: February 26, 2019

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States can introduce laws that mandate forms of coordinated response at national and sub-national levels.  This can create a legal requirement and establish the necessary structures to facilitate multi-sectoral collaboration.  In some cases, the type of structure and the range of participating agencies are outlined in legislation, although this may be overly prescriptive for some contexts.

Legislation can be used to:

  • Enshrine a commitment to achieving greater coordination between sectors;
  • Designate mechanisms and structures for achieving this;
  • Commit funds for achieving coordination;
  • Mandate integrated and coordinated service provision for victims/survivors; and
  • Set minimum standards in which coordination is a central component.

Legislation Examples

The Kvinnofrid (Women’s Peace) package of reforms on violence against women in Sweden beginning in the late 1990s, which underlined the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration between the police, social/support services and health. 

One of the most comprehensive examples is the Spanish Organic Act of 2004, focused on intimate partner violence, which is considered a promising practice (European Commission, 2010). 

The US’s Violence Against Women Act is an example of how the federal government can use legislation with resources attached to steer the development of policy and services, and stipulate coordination between, federal, state and local authorities.  The U.S. VAWA enacted in 1994 has been reauthorized with revisions three times in 2000, 2005 and 2013.

More recently, Tajikistan enacted its Law on the Prevention of Family Violence in 2013, which explicitly contains provisions on implementation of the law and coordination of services.  The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan is unequivocally responsible for coordinating activities of the bodies responsible for preventing violence in the family and the local administrative and governmental bodies must participate in the development and ensure implementation of the state programmes on prevention of violence  (Arts. 7-9 of the Law on Prevention of Violence in the Family).  The law goes on to require law enforcement, the child rights agency, educational institutions, health institutions, social protection agencies, support centres, rehabilitation centres for victims and self-governing authorities such as towns and villages to coordinate and cooperate with one another in implementing programs and the law.

Additionally, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence acknowledges that no single agency or institute can address violence against women alone and an effective response requires concerted action by many different actors.  It therefore mandates that State parties take the necessary legislative and other measures to adopt and implement comprehensive and co-ordinated policies to offer a holistic response to violence against women (Arts. 7-10). 




CASE STUDY – Andhra Pradesh, India

In India, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act requires each state to institute a protection officer system to assist victims of domestic violence. Implementation of this provision has been particularly effective in the state of Andhra Pradesh, based on a strong inter-agency coordination programme. The police, legal aid groups, protection officers, and other civil society service providers have developed clear guidelines and agreements for interagency coordination. When a case of domestic violence is reported to the police, the woman generally is referred to a protection officer who then gives appropriate referrals to service agencies. Legal aid lawyers provide free legal services for victims who need that assistance. A related factor in the success of the Andhra Pradesh system is that the state government allocates more funds than any other Indian state to implementation of the domestic violence law. See: Domestic Violence: Legislation and its Implementation, 44-45, UN Women (2009).



Example: Organic law on integrated protection measures against gender violence (Spain)

In the Spanish Organic Act 1/2004 of 28 December on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence, intimate partner violence, which is the primary focus, is approached from an integrated, multi-disciplinary perspective.  From the outset, the guiding principles include:

  • Establishing a comprehensive system of institutional protection where the state, through the Special Government Delegation on Violence against Women and the State Observatory on Violence against Women, promotes public policies to safeguard victims of gender violence.
  • Coordinating the resources and instruments deployed by different public authorities to maximise prevention and ensure appropriate penalties.
  • Promoting the collaboration and involvement of civil entities and organisations working on violence against women.

The law envisages creation of a multi-disciplinary Commission, including survivors, to oversee awareness raising and prevention programme and specifies sectoral responsibilities for education, advertising and media, health; in the latter case this includes inserting measures for integrated prevention of and response to violence into Health Plans.

The Act also provides for integrated social assistance – multi-disciplinary care, including information, psychological and social assistance, educational and employment support.  Coordinated services, with collaboration between police, specialist judges, health services, victim support and legal advocacy services are also required.  Crucially, the law clearly asserts that the state will provide funding for the provision of these services.  One innovation, the first of its kind in Europe, is the creation of specific Violence against Women Courts.


Example: Law on measure against violence in family relations (Albania)

In Albania, the 2006 Law on Measures against Violence in Family Relations, no. 9669, included a provision to set up a coordinated network of authorities responsible for the protection, support and rehabilitation of victims and prevention of domestic violence.  The law designates the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities as lead responsible authority for implementing the provisions contained in the law, including financing support services for victims/survivors and establishing infrastructure.  Local authorities are charged with setting up local coordination structures, including 24-hour toll-free helplines connecting police, medical emergency units and NGOs.  The legal provision is reiterated in the National Strategy on Gender Equality and Domestic Violence.



General Law on Women’s Access to a Life Free from Violence 2006 (Mexico)

Article 1 of this law sets out its ambition to coordinate responses at all levels, and Article 35 lays out mechanisms, ‘to guarantee women’s access to a life free of violence’, further outlining the need for:

  • specialized services for care, treatment and protection of victims;
  • comprehensive specialized re-education services for perpetrators;
  • education campaigns; and
  • training for relevant professionals.

Sections on spheres of competence outline roles and responsibilities for the Federal government and each ministry (Interior, Public Security, Social Development, Public Education, Health, Attorney General) and for national bodies (National Institute for Women, National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination and the National Network of Family Development Agencies).  The Interior Ministry is the lead ministry and is responsible for establishing and following up coordination mechanisms at the federal, local and municipal levels, with the National Institute for Women acting as Secretariat.  Resources for implementing the system are to come from within pre-existing budgets for decentralised government agencies and entities (Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, 2007).

Full text of law in Spanish; translation available in English.



Example: Violence Against Women Act (USA)

In 1994, the United States Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  The Violence Against Women Act is a comprehensive legislative package designed to end violence against women, which was renewed in 2000, 2005 and 2010.  Through a series of 19 grant programmes, administered by the Office on Violence Against Women, the Violence Against Women Act aims to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to violence against women.

One section of the Act states that grants should be channeled to ‘multidisciplinary efforts’ seeking to coordinate the response of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, courts, victim services and other State agencies, as well as to domestic and sexual violence coalitions ‘for the purposes of coordinating State victim services activities, and collaborating and coordinating with Federal, State, and local entities engaged in violence against women activities’ (42 U.S.C.A. § 3796gg).  The resulting STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program and the State Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coalitions Program have been critical in the widespread establishment of coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence across the US.  Between 1995 and 2011 more than $750 million had been awarded to around 350 projects under the STOP Program alone (Office on Violence Against Women).

Source: Office on Violence Against Women website.