EU: Towards the ratification of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women
Europe and Human Rights Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence
On May 10th 2023, in Strasbourg, MEPs promoted the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women and domestic violence. In 2016, the EU signed the Convention but did not ratify it due to several objections raised among some member states. Nevertheless, in 2021 the EU Court of Justice ruled that the EU as a bloc, can ratify the Convention without the agreement of all EU member states. As the Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli has shared on Twitter, the Convention is “a historic step forward that sends a strong message about the importance of women's rights in the EU. Violence against women has no place in the Union of Equality." The six EU member states that have not ratified the Convention are Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia; as the Court of Justice has ruled on the matter, only a qualified majority is required in order to achieve EU ratification of the treaty and not unanimity. This means that the vote in the European Parliament will not force these six states to proceed with ratifying themselves the Istanbul Convention, nor will their objection stand as an impediment to the EU’s ratification of the Convention.
The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty aiming to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Aiming for equality and non-discrimination, the Convention builds up on the non-discrimination principle as enshrined through Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Convention makes reference to state obligations, due diligence, and gender-sensitive policies, thus establishing a hands-on approach to be adopted by states. The basic pillars of the Convention are prevention alongside protection and support. Prevention corresponds to a series of actions to be taken by Parties to the Convention including awareness-raising, education, and training of professionals. Protection and support include legislative measures that ensure that victims receive adequate information on the available support they can receive.
The Convention is a powerful tool for the protection of women, and the engagement of states with this human rights treaty constitutes a fundamental step towards ensuring the safety of all women across Europe.
Sources and Further Reading
Euronews. (2023, 10 May). MEPs vote for EU to ratify Istanbul Convention against violence against women. Euronews. Retrieved from https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023/05/10/meps-vote-for-eu-to-ratify-istanbul-convention-against-violence-against-women
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted December 10, 1948, Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, entered into force August 1, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list?module=treaty-detail&treatynum=210