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Annual Nordic Equality Bodies/Ombudsman Institution Meeting in Denmark

September 24th 2012
The Danish Institute for Human Rights hosted the meeting entitled ‘Nordic provisions of positive duties in the labour market’ on September 6 and 7, 2012.

The theme of promoting equal treatment by positive duties was put into perspective by speakers from different Nordic countries, who provided a short overview about the state of art at the respective equality bodies. Moreover, the following special reports were given:

- Ronald Craig (Norway): ‘The Nordic provisions of positive duty to promote equal treatment in the labour market’.
- Peter Tai Christensen (Sweden): ‘Implementation of positive duty: policy development, monitoring and accountability mechanisms, sanctions – identifying best practices’.
- Mandana Zarrehparvar (Denmark): ‘Implementation of positive duty: how to overcome a lack of provision – “Equality Lab” – equality impact assessments and work plans in Danish municipalities’.
As a result of the meeting, the Nordic Equality Bodies/Ombudsman Institutions agreed upon ten issues that would be used as a point of departure for nationally targeted communications.

The full list of issues is accessible here, while a short summary can be read below:

Despite existing anti-discrimination legislation in the Nordic countries, discrimination is still persistent. The current mechanisms for promoting equal treatment are inadequate and improvement of protection systems is not likely to occur through voluntary initiatives by public authorities and labor market stakeholders. Instead, a turn to positive duty measures would be an effective and measurable way of combating discrimination.

The perceived advantage of positive duty over mere anti-discrimination legislation is the more specified and systematic process for improvement of equality that it entails. Positive duty is not limited to quotas, but includes other effective measures like mentor systems and task forces in companies. It was also stressed that the key to success of positive duty measures is thorough implementation, monitoring and evaluation - activities for which the National Equality Bodies should assume main responsibility.