Many officials experience problems in setting up coordination structures. Colleagues are busy, have their own priorities and are often frustrated by the amount of time taken up by coordination. To ensure productive and effective coordination mechanisms, two elements are key:
- Shared ownership of the issues being addressed;
- Tangible benefits derived from coordination.
Although national legislation and policies often address violence against children within the family, the identification and support of child victims remains a challenge. The lack of coordination between municipal social services has been identified as an important weakness. In Denmark, for instance, the Hjorring District Court (Hjorring Byret) found a husband and wife guilty of abusing their children and stepchildren, with offences including assault, incest and forcible restraint. The court learned that the municipality of former residence had withheld information from the municipality to which the family later moved about possible abuse within the family.
Source: FRA Report (2011) Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2011, p. 105.
Identify colleagues whose work is connected to fundamental rights and who will need to be involved in implementing activities. For example, include “technical level” staff.
It is important to generate trust and ownership. Colleagues in other departments need to know why fundamental rights are important for their work and how these can improve public policies, services or administrative practices.
Coordination mechanisms should establish clear and shared objectives related to fundamental rights and all partners should be accountable for success. An important focus should be on areas where coordination is needed to satisfy legal obligations deriving from fundamental rights – for example in relation to individuals seeking assistance or recourse to a complaint mechanism.
Bring all relevant departments together when launching a new coordination mechanism. This meeting should serve as a platform to clearly state the aims of the coordination mechanism, why it is necessary, and what the roles of the different departments are in achieving its objectives.