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Frontpage News 2014 New convention aims to protect women from domestic and gender-based violence

New convention aims to protect women from domestic and gender-based violence

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has described the Istanbul Convention as ‘the gold standard’ in the efforts to combat violence against women worldwide. Through the Convention, Europe takes a leading international role in preventing and combating violence against women.

“We must all act now to improve the lives of the many women and girls who are victims of violence just because of their gender,” says Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The objective of the Convention is to combat violence against women through prevention, protection, criminal prosecution and monitoring.

The Convention closes a large gap in the European legislation on OR covering women’s rights. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights estimates that in 2013 alone 13 million women have been victims of physical violence in the European Union, of those 3.7 million women have been victims of sexual violence.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women – also known as the ‘Istanbul Convention’ – has been open for signatures since May 2011. Since then the signatory member states have ratified the Convention in their respective parliaments.

Ten signatories are needed to ratify the Convention. As of spring 2014 the following 14 countries have ratified the convention: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Germany and Austria. Norway and 21 signatories are still in the process of ratifying the Convention.


The signatories of the Convention have committed themselves to:

  • Train professionals working with victims
  • Run regular or frequent  public awareness campaigns
  • Include topics related to gender equality and non-violent conflict settlement in teaching materials
  • Offer treatment programmes for  violent partners and sex offenders
  • Cooperate closely with non-governmental organisations
  • Engage with the media and the private sector to stop stereotypical portrayals and promote mutual respect

The Council of Europe is now working to establish a group of independent experts (GREVIO) which will monitor the signatories’ implementation of the Convention.

Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are helping different countries in Central and Southern Europe to fulfill the conditions in the Convention. The Council of Europe is also involved as partner in several of these programmes to combat domestic and gender-based violence.

Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein have set aside €20 million to programmes and projects in 14 beneficiary countries to prevent and combat violence against women.

Read our brochure on what we do in the beneficiary countries here:

International conference

On 19 September, a conference in Rome will be celebrating the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention. Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the CoE, Federica Mogherini, the Foreign Minister of Italy and Ingvild Stub, State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are among the speakers.

Read more about our Domestic and Gender-based violence programmes here