The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) marked the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) with an event on this topic at its Summer plenary session, taking place from 21 to 24 June 2021 in a hybrid format, allowing members to participate remotely or attend in person in Strasbourg.
This event, an initiative of PACE President Rik Daems, included speeches by: Nadia Murad, winner of the 2016 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize; Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium; Anca Dana Dragu, President of the Romanian Senate; Elisabeth Moreno, French Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities; and Dubravka Šimonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences. Zita Gurmai, PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women, highlighted the way forward to make progress with the signature, ratification and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention.
The Assembly also held current affairs debates on "The situation in Belarus: a threat to the whole of Europe", and “The need for an effective solidarity mechanism between European countries to relieve migratory pressure on front line countries”, with the participation of Panagiotis Mitarachis, Minister of Migration and Asylum of Greece.
In addition, the Assembly discussed the protection of fundamental rights and the legal implications of Covid passes or certificates; the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic; and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights.
The agenda also included debates on ‘Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandate?’, ‘Transparency and regulation of donations to political parties and electoral campaigns from foreign donors’, and on ‘Enhancing participation of women from under-represented groups in political and public decision-making’.
The parliamentarians debated media freedom, the situation of the Crimean Tatars, public trust and the people’s right to know, as well as the European policy on diasporas, with the participation of the Director General of the International Organization for Migration António Vitorino. The fight against Afrophobia in Europe was also on the agenda, with the participation of E. Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
In the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó addressed the Assembly and answered questions. Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić also took part in a question and answer session.
Reports on the recent parliamentary elections in Bulgaria and Albania were discussed. PACE also elected a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Croatia.