La Istanbul Convention is an international treaty of the Council of Europe which aims to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention was adopted in 2011 and has so far been ratified by 34 countries. The European Union signed the Convention in 2017, but took more than ten years to confirm its membership.

In this interview with Marcella PirroneD lawyer.i.King and president of WAVE – Women Against Violence Europe, the network that brings together 160 organizations from 46 European countries, we will deepen the meaning and implications of this membership for the protection of women's rights and the fight against gender-based violence.

What changes with the accession to the Istanbul Convention?

First of all, access is symbolically and politically very important because it confirms the importance of the Istanbul Convention and reinforces the principles of the Convention itself for all the countries of the European Union. From an operational point of view, in matters of European competence, the rules will have to respect and adapt to the dictates of the Convention on male violence against women and domestic violence.


Can we expect positive spillovers for European women?

For women in the European Union, it means having an effective, clear and exhaustive regulatory framework and reference available. As regards the part of the application of the rules, it is important to highlight that the European Union will be subject to monitoring by GREVIO like every single state that has ratified the convention. Then the monitoring procedure that we know well: questionnaire, visit, probably input from civil society and recommendations.

Attention, for the countries of the European Union which have not yet ratified the Convention (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia) it will not automatically entail access but it is a strong political message from the Union, a form Of moralsuasion.

For all the countries that are waiting to join the European Union, it is a strong message to proceed with the ratification, they will be called to respect the standards.


Why did it take 10 years? 

There was political resistance which led to a request for an opinion from the ECJ (with a consequent lengthening of the times) which however clarified that it is possible for the EU to join, but also that – importantly – unanimity is not needed! Obviously if unanimity had been needed there would never have been membership.