An inter­na­tional group of human rights experts dis­cussed the global chal­lenges facing women’s rights and the respon­si­bility of gov­ern­ments world­wide to elim­i­nate vio­lence against women, during a recent panel dis­cus­sion spon­sored by North­eastern University’s School of Law.

The event, held on April 29, was part of the Due Dili­gence Project hosted by the School of Law’s Pro­gram on Human Rights and the Global Economy. The project con­ducts exten­sive research to ana­lyze how gov­ern­ments are com­plying with their due dili­gence oblig­a­tions to elim­i­nate vio­lence against women.

Pan­elist Rashida Manjoo, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Vio­lence Against Women for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said phys­ical and psy­cho­log­ical vio­lence against women remains a major uni­versal problem, as women’s rights are still not rec­og­nized or pro­tected in many parts of the world.

Vio­lence against women is the most per­va­sive human rights vio­la­tion in the world,” said Manjoo, a native of South Africa. She said part of the chal­lenge is deter­mining whether gov­ern­ments fail to take action due to a lack of under­standing or a lack of polit­ical will.

Manjoo will also deliver the com­mence­ment address and receive an hon­orary degree at the School of Law’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony on May 27.

During the panel dis­cus­sion, attorney Geeta Ramase­shan dis­cussed how India’s Supreme Court has han­dled human rights issues since the 1980s, while Gen­oveva Tisheva, an activist from Bul­garia, talked about the chal­lenges she’s faced in her country over the last two decades pushing the gov­ern­ment to end vio­lence against women.

Vivi­enne Wee, an anthro­pol­o­gist from Sin­ga­pore and a researcher with the Insti­tute for Women’s Empow­er­ment, noted the impor­tance of deter­mining whether vio­lence is a social norm in that par­tic­ular society when ana­lyzing vio­lence against women. She also asserted that many of the world’s states resulted from col­o­niza­tion, which she said inher­ently included some form of violence.

The Due Dili­gence Project is codi­rected by Janine Moussa, a senior fellow at Northeastern’s School of Law, and Zarizana Abdul Aziz, a vis­iting scholar at North­eastern and Columbia Uni­ver­sity. Manjoo is a prin­cipal advisor on the project.

Emily Spieler, dean of the School of Law, said North­eastern is priv­i­leged to host the project through next year, which she said com­pli­ments the work done in the Pro­gram on Human Rights and the Global Economy, as well as the School of Law’s Domestic Vio­lence Institute.

The com­bi­na­tion of these [ini­tia­tives] has given our stu­dents extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ties in both global and domestic thinking around vio­lence against women and the roles of states glob­ally, and the rea­son­able expec­ta­tions for inter­ven­tions that limit this vio­lence,” Spieler said.