THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONVENTION ON PREVENTING AND COMBATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (ISTANBUL CONVENTION)

The Council Of Europe Convention On Preventing And Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, is the newest and most comprehensive instrument in combating violence against women. Having opened for signature in May 2011, the Convention came into force in 2014. The very year it was opened for signature, Turkey became the first to sign and ratify the convention without any reservations. Currently signed by 46 states and the European Union, the convention has been ratified by 32 countries. The prevention of all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, the protection of victims of violence, the prosecution and punishment of offenders, and lastly the effective implementation of integrated, comprehensive, and well-coordinated policies to combat violence against women constitute the four main pillars of the convention. As a human rights treaty on combating violence against women, the Istanbul Convention is not only concerned with punishing perpetrators or ending impunity, but also creating the conditions for women to live their lives safely, without fear, free from violence and discrimination, and be entitled to reparations for any violence they have faced.

The implementation of commitments made by signatory states is monitored by an independent group of experts called the GREVIO Committee. Starting its first country evaluation procedures in 2016, GREVIO embarked on Turkey’s country evaluation in 2017. As part of the evaluation procedure, Turkey submitted its state report to the Committee in July 2017. A shadow NGO report was finalized and brought to the Committee in September 2017 by independent women’s and LGBTI+ organizations coming together under the Istanbul Convention Monitoring Platform – Turkey, who then held a meeting with the GREVIO Committee in November 2017.

As Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, we have been active participants in all stages pertaining to the convention, starting from its drafting to the evaluation procedure including the preparation of the shadow NGO report and the GREVIO meeting with independent women’s organizations held as part of its country evaluation visit. The Committee released its Final Evaluation Report on the first evaluation process of Turkey in October 2018.

The state report submitted by the Republic of Turkey to the GREVIO Committee is available here.

The shadow report  prepared by the Istanbul Convention Monitoring Platform – Turkey is available here.

GREVIO’s evaluation report on Turkey is available here.

Turkey, who actively took part in the preparation of the Istanbul Convention—named after the city in which it first opened for signature— and who was its first signatory, officially declared its intention to withdraw from the Convention with a Presidential Decree on 20 March 2021. On 22 March 2021, the decision to withdraw from the Convention was reported to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Shortly after, pursuant to Article 80 of the Convention pertaining to the withdrawal process, this notification was published on the website of the council of Europe including the date on which the decision of withdrawal will be in effect for Turkey (1 July 2021). Hence, Turkey, who endeavored in the preparation of the Convention, who made great efforts for it to be opened for signature during its role as the chair of the council and who was the first signatory, became the first and the only country to officially declare its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention which was put into effect with the unanimous vote of all the MPs in the Parliament.

In addition to the visual, auditory and written materials we prepared on the Istanbul Convention, you can reach the fundamental documents and reports pertaining to the preparation of the Convention, the signing of the Convention by Turkey, the establishment and activities of the Istanbul Convention Monitoring Platform as well as information and documents on the withdrawal process that we collected by the Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways on the website www.istanbulsozlesmesi.org.

Following the Presidential Decree declaring the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on 20 March 2021, protests began to be voiced against this decision internationally. Rights based organizations and networks alongside some worldwide known names objected to and contested the decision of the government and took active part in spreading information about this development. Relevant organs and representatives of the United Nations, European Union and Council of Europe made public statements about the process. You can access a selection of the international solidarity messages and statements here.

Also, as feminist and LGBTI+ organizations from Turkey and abroad that actively fight the global attacks and increasing threats against gender on an international scale we organized an intersectional campaign named United4IstanbulConvention. You can reach detailed information on the campaign here.

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Remember This Crowd Episode 1: Istanbul Convention

‘Remember This Crowd’ documentary series is an oral history project we, as Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, have embarked on to look back at the campaigns held by the feminist movement through its/our history and foster a collective memory of the crowds that have come together in our growing struggle over the years. The first film of the series focuses on the Istanbul Convention, which has become a matter of heated public debate throughout last year and continues to be so. In the documentary, we revisit the origins of the Istanbul Convention dating back to the ECHR’s decision on the Nahide Opuz case. Once again we recognize the efforts given by the feminists in Turkey in the formation of the Convention, as well as the struggle we waged during Turkey’s official withdrawal from the convention. We turn to Feride Acar, Canan Arın, Şehnaz Kıymaz Bahçeci, Meral Danış Beştaş, Feride Eralp and Yıldız Tar to listen to the history behind the slogan, “The Istanbul Convention is Ours”.

Istanbul Convention is Ours! 

“Istanbul Convention is Ours” animation shows us how the lives of the three women in our story would have changed, if the Istanbul Convention was effectively implemented.

This animation has been produced by Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways, within the framework of its Istanbul Convention Campaign.