The Istanbul Convention

Our work on Istanbul Convention

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence better know as the “Istanbul Convention” is an international treaty to help tackle violence against women and girls. It was adopted in 2011 and entered into force in 2014.

The Convention is the first European instrument that aims legally to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence, and punish perpetrators. It explains what countries have to do to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Some of the measures are awareness raising, data collection, and legal measures (for example recognising that forced sterilisation or female genital mutilation is a form of violence against women). The focus is for governmental bodies to be involved in prevention, prosecution, and protection activities. This can be done through training, education, resources, law enforcement, and legal systems. 

Thank to organisations of persons with disabilities, the Convention has been translated in Easy to read in different languages: 

States Parties to the Convention 

  • 33 European countries have ratified the Convention. 
  • The 13 countries that have not ratified the Convention are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. In 2021, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention. 
  • The European Union signed but did not ratify the Convention.  

You can find more information on the ratification of the Convention on this website. 

Implementation and monitoring of the Convention  

All States that ratified the Convention need to apply it through “implementation”. This means that they have to adopt laws, policies and measures to apply the Convention. 

There are two ways the implementation of the Convention is monitored: 

  1.  Country-by-country evaluation procedure that starts with a baseline report and ends with final reports and conclusions from an independent expert body (GREVIO)
  2.  Special urgent inquiry procedure that may initiated by GREVIO when there is reliable information that indicates a violation of the Convention

You can access the timetable for the first (baseline) evaluation procedure 2016-2023 here.

Importance of the Convention for women and girls with disabilities

Data show that, on average, women and girls with disabilities are 2 to 5 times more likely to face violence than other women and girls. In the EU, 34% of women with a health problem or a disability have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime. Violence may include domestic and gender-based violence, institutional violence, forced sterilisation, contraception and abortion, and harassment, including sexual harassment. Despites being more at risk of becoming victims of violence, women and girls with disabilities receive limited awareness and education on violence and sexual education. Due to lack of awareness, accessibility, and reasonable accommodation, they have difficulties or even cannot have access to support and justice.

All these aspects are covered by the Istanbul Convention. When drafting this Convention, many principles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were taken into consideration. The implementation of the Convention explicitly stating the protection of rights of people with disabilities.
Engaging with the Convention and its monitoring body 

Non-governmental organisations, including organisations of persons with disabilities and of women with disabilities are a crucial part to upholding the standards in the Convention by participating to the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. 

They can report violations and failure to implement the Convention to the GREVIO, as part of the country evaluation or inquiry procedure. 

Learn more about the Convention and the monitoring procedure

If your country has not ratified the Convention, you can advocate for ratification: download our template letter to send to your government