Great news: on 11th May 2017 the Council of the EU agreed to sign the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.


Volonteurope welcomes the commitment to sign the Istanbul Convention as, although only a small step, it is a positive signal in the European Commission’s year dedicated to ending violence against women. Celebrated with a campaign with the hashtag #SayNoStopVAW, and a campaign which Volonteurope is dedicated to supporting.


By signing the convention the European Union shows its commitment to combating violence against women, but it still needs to strengthen the existing legal framework and its capacity to act. Thus, the European Union joins all the Member states that have already signed the Istanbul Convention in order to play a more effective role in the fight.


However, this is only the first step in the process of the Union joining the Istanbul Convention. The official signing will be followed by the adoption of the decisions on the conclusion of the Convention. That can be taken only with the approval of the European Parliament. While the European Commission had adopted the two proposals for the EU’s signing and conclusion of the convention on 4th March 2016.


The Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the international treaty presented in 2011 and which entered into force in August 2014 on combating violence against women and domestic violence. It recognises violence against women as a human rights violation. It addresses violence against women through measures aimed at preventing violence, protecting victims, and prosecuting the perpetrators.


The Istanbul Convention sets legally binding standards to specifically prevent violence against women and girls, protect victims and punish perpetrators. It is crucial in order to achieve real progress in fighting violence against women and the underlying structural causes that still persist in our societies.


Laura de Bonfils, European Policy and Advocacy Manager