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Statement by the Committee on Equality, which reaffirms its support for the Istanbul Convention

Parliamentary Network "Women Free from Violence"

Meeting by videoconference today, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination reaffirmed its support for the Istanbul Convention by adopting the following statement:

“The Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, ratified by 34 member states and signed by the European Union, is recognised worldwide as the most advanced and comprehensive international legal standard for the protection of women from violence.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination welcomes the considerable progress made since the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention in 2014 through the introduction of legislative and other measures to promote and protect the right for everyone, particularly women, to live free from violence.

The Committee regrets the recent headline statements by politicians in Poland and Turkey calling for withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and inviting others to follow their example. These negative stances are the result of deliberate misrepresentations about the objectives and provisions of the treaty.

The Istanbul Convention has a very clear agenda: ensure the safety of women and girls at risk of violence, promote gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women – all of which are fundamental rights already enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Intentional distortion of its aims and talk about a hidden agenda aiming to redefine the concept of “family” or regulating family life or structures are groundless claims at the service of defending, preserving and amplifying patriarchal structures.

The widespread popular protests against these dangerous initiatives by convention supporters across Europe are a sign of its positive impact on the lives of women all over Europe and beyond, and the real importance the convention represents for civil society and service providers at the forefront of efforts to prevent violence and protect women.

Recalling PACE Resolution 2289 (2019) on the Istanbul Convention on violence against women: achievements and challenges, the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination calls on all parliaments to actively support its implementation as a unique instrument for more equality, better protection of women and girls against violence and enhanced measures to prevent violence. It specifically calls on parliamentarians:

- to actively support signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention in those member and non-member States that have not yet done;

- to reject any backlash against the human rights standards set out in the convention;

- in member States Parties to the convention, to work to implement the recommendations made by the Committee of the Parties of the convention on the basis of the reports and conclusions of the monitoring body, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO);

- in States Parties where the convention has been challenged, to speak out in support of its continued and strengthened implementation in the interests of women and girls and of society as a whole.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination calls on all member States, civil society and regional and international organisations to use 25 November - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - to organise events to reaffirm their support for the Istanbul Convention and its vital role in ending violence against women.

The Assembly’s Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence and its General Rapporteur on Violence against Women have played an essential role in promoting the convention, with targeted action in national parliaments across the member States, as well as at regional and international level. They will continue to do so using all the means at their disposal.”