‘Istanbul Convention’ – How Civil Society Can Engage in the Monitoring Process

By Eve Geddie, PICUM Programmes Director

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) has great potential to become an effective tool for ending violence against women and girls in Europe today. The Convention sets out, and calls for the implementation of, legally binding standards to prevent violence against women, protect survivors and punish perpetrators. Requiring state parties to ensure availability of services such as hotlines, shelters, medical assistance, counselling, and legal aid.

Importantly, the Convention prohibits discrimination on the grounds of migration status (Article 4) and requires state parties to provide an autonomous permit to victims whose status is dependent on a violent partner or spouse (Article 59).

Now that the Convention has entered into force, the process is underway to select a group of independent experts called the GREVIO which will measure the extent to which state parties have implemented the Convention. This monitoring mechanism will be key to guarantee that the protections offered by the Convention will be realised in practice.

GREVIO, “the Group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence”, will measure the extent to which state parties who have signed the Convention are adhering to it. In addition to reports received from national governments, these experts will rely on information from NGOs and national parliaments, and may also conduct field trips as part of their inquiry. According to the adopted rules on the election procedure, each State Party to the Convention can nominate up to three candidates (Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andorra, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey). To ensure the most qualified candidates, State Parties should ensure that the national selection procedure is transparent and open to competition. Competence, independence, availability and language skills (English and/or French) shall be the guiding principles for the nomination and election of future GREVIO members.

Civil society have an important role to play in this process.  The first step to ensuring an effective monitoring mechanism is to encourage States Parties to nominate strong candidates. Once the GREVIO is in place, civil society can actively contribute to the monitoring process through, for example, shadow reports to GREVIO and can encourage meaningful application of the new mechanism through the involvement of national parliaments in the evaluation and monitoring is to be realised (as described in Article 70 of the Convention).

All States Parties to the Convention have until Monday, 2 March 2015 to submit nominations for up to three candidates to the Council of Europe Secretary General.

Recognising this valuable opportunity, PICUM is encouraging its members and partners in countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention to take action to ensure that the selection of national candidates is indeed a transparent and open process, and that the best qualified candidates apply.

Due to the tight deadline, PICUM is happy to share a model letter to help civil society organisations in their outreach to the ministries. Available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, we encourage you to contact your national authorities at the earliest opportunity.

For more information, contact Eve Geddie at: eve.geddie(at)picum.org

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