Council of Europe Adopts Landmark Treaty to Combat Violence against Women

Council of Europe adopted a Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence on 10-11 May 2011 in Istanbul at the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers, where it was immediately opened for signatures.[:]


Chairwoman Hautala hailed the adoption of the Convention as a landmark achievement in the protection of women from all forms of violence. To eradicate gender based violence, legal measures of this kind are needed. Without effective prosecution and protection, the fight against domestic abuse cannot be won.

The Convention is the first binding European instrument specifically dealing with violence against women. Even despite the fact that it builds on the 1979 UN Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discriminations against Women, it is still controversial. Some countries were attacking the content and aimed to water down the provisions. It has been reported, amongst others, that UK made attempts to deny that violence against women could be considered a human rights issue, Russia tried to exclude the mention of same-sex couples while Italy wanted to withdraw provisions on protection for migrant women. Some countries already announced that they will not ratify it, including Bulgaria and Russia. “Such attitudes amongst the Pan-European family are greatly disappointing at this time and age. These concepts should not be an issue of contention anymore,” Chairwoman Hautala noted.

Since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty the EU has the opportunity to ratify the Convention, but announcement to this effect has not been made yet. “This ratification would further enhance the protection and promotion of rights of women across the board in Europe. This ratification is nothing less than imperative; these provisions must become also EU law,” she emphasized.