On 13 March PACE's Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence and the British delegation to PACE organised a peer seminar at the Palace of Westminster in London, where parliamentarians from the United Kingdom and Ukraine compared the challenges of ratifying the Istanbul Convention. Other MPs shared their knowledge and experience of monitoring its implementation – an obligation under its Article 70 – making practical suggestions for legislative action, support and promotion, and held an exchange of views with NGOs working in the UK to prevent and protect women and girls against violence.
Mariia Mezentseva (Ukraine, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and Head of the Ukrainian delegation to PACE, and John Howell (United Kingdom, EC/DA), Head of the British delegation to PACE, spoke at the event, as well as other members of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and of the British Parliament and members of PACE's Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence.
Sessions were moderated by PACE General Rapporteur against Racism and Intolerance Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC) and rapporteur on the Istanbul Convention Zita Gurmai (Hungary, SOC). GREVIO President Iris Luarasi presented the Istanbul Convention system and the current state of play, responding to questions from participants.
Parliamentarians present pledged to continue their work in support of the Convention and to advocate for its universal ratification, insisting that true equality, as the only way to stop gender-based violence, should be high on the agenda of the Council of Europe’s 4th Summit of Heads of State and Government. United Kingdom parliamentarians would propose an annual debate in Parliament on the Istanbul Convention, in consultation with NGOs, represented at the seminar by ICChange, Women’s Aid and Southall Black Sisters.