In a joint statement to mark UN International Women’s Day, German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Franziska Giffey and Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić have highlighted the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, since it was opened for signature in Istanbul in 2011.

Significant progress has been achieved to stop such violence, with 34 countries having acceded so far to the Convention, and also because successful monitoring in half of these countries has led to much cooperation and sharing of best practices. But obstacles and challenges – from increased calls to domestic violence hotlines during COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, to political movements against the Convention based on false interpretations of its goals – must be faced with determination.

Minister Giffey and Secretary General Pejčinović Burić set forth the goal for the next 10 years – and preferably sooner – that all 47 Council of Europe member states accede to the Convention.

Violence against women is a structural and global phenomenon that knows no social, economic or national boundaries. It is a serious violation of human rights and remains widely unsanctioned. Every day in Europe, women are psychologically and physically abused in the “safety” of their own homes, stalked, harassed, raped, mutilated, forced by their family to enter into marriage, or sterilised against their will. The examples of violence against women are endless, its victims countless.

The Istanbul Convention is the most far-reaching international treaty that equips countries to prevent violence against women. Its comprehensive set of provisions spans far-ranging preventive and protective measures as well as a number of obligations to ensure an adequate criminal justice response to such serious violations of human rights. The convention sets up a monitoring mechanism to assess the level of implementation by its parties. This monitoring mechanism consists of two pillars: the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), an independent expert body, and the Committee of the Parties, a political body composed of official representatives of the Parties to the convention.

Given COVID-19 and the rise of violence against women, the convention is needed now more than ever before.

Italy ratified the Istanbul Convention on 10 September 2013 and was among the first state parties for which it entered into force on 1 August 2014.


Giuseppe Zaffuto, spokesperson for the Council of Europe in Italy.

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