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Council of Europe: 10 years of the Istanbul Convention

On 11 May 2011, the Council of Europe celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul convention.

The Istanbul Convention is a major human rights treaty establishing comprehensive legal standards to ensure women’s right to be free from violence. Resulting from the Council of Europe’s continuous efforts since the 1990s to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, this European legal instrument was negotiated by its 47 member states and adopted on 7 April 2011 by its Committee of Ministers. It is known as the Istanbul Convention after the city in which it opened for signature on 11 May 2011. Three years later, on 1 August 2014, it entered into force following its 10th ratification. Since then, all governments that have ratified this treaty are bound by its obligations.

The Istanbul Convention recognizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women. Based on a victim-centred approach, it offers practical tools to ensure the protection of women and girls, their safety and empowerment. It links these to the wider goal of achieving equality between women and men.

Over the past 10 years, it has guided numerous states in advancing their legislation and policies in order to prevent and combat violence against women effectively. The convention makes a difference for women and girls and represents an important advocacy tool. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary means celebrating its transformative power and uniting behind this landmark treaty.

In January 2020, the Council of Europe Expert Group on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention by the Parties, published its first baseline evaluation report on Italy.

The report contains a comprehensive analysis of the implementation of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention. It highlights positive initiatives to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women and domestic violence at the national level and provides suggestions and proposals to improve the situation of women facing such violence.

GREVIO welcomes the wide range of measures taken by Italy to implement the Istanbul Convention which offers an expression of the authorities’ genuine political will to tackle violence against women. A succession of legislative reforms has created an extensive set of rules and mechanisms reinforcing the authorities’ ability to counter-violence. Despite these steps, GREVIO has identified a number of areas where improvement is warranted. These include inter alia the need to develop further solutions offering a coordinated multi-agency response to violence, to expand the coverage and capacity of specialist services that follow a human rights-based approach, and to lift the barriers preventing victims from accessing effective protection under protective orders.

The report is consultable at the link below.