Statement by UN Women on Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention
Update, 25 March 2021– The following Leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalition for Gender-based Violence endorse this statement: Breakthrough; Global Coalition on Inclusive and safe spaces and cities for women and girls; Las Ninas Lideran; European Women’s Lobby; OutRight Action International; Yes Trust Zimbabwe; United Kingdom; Iceland. These governments and leading organizations are part of a major drive towards action and commitments on women and girls’ rights in the run up to 2021’s Generation Equality Forum.
UN Women reiterates the concerns expressed by the United Nations in Turkey and other partners regarding Turkey’s announced termination of being a party to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the “Istanbul Convention”).
This action comes at a point when concerted international action and commitment to end violence against women and girls is more important than ever and as UN Women is seeking to mobilize even greater multi-stakeholder and cross generational action on this issue, with the women’s movement being key in these efforts.
We urge Turkey to reconsider its withdrawal.
UN Women has highlighted the increase in reported violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of measures such as lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services, which comes on top of the already-existing extreme levels of violence reaffirmed in the latest report by WHO. The pandemic revealed the gaps in our systems to respond to such violence and the acute need to respond firmly and with unity. The solidarity of nations that comes with being part of international conventions is critical for a world that is free of the “shadow pandemic” of violence against women.
We reaffirm our support to the Secretary-General’s leadership on prevention and redress of violence against women and girls. We recall the Inter-agency statement on violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 that highlighted six critical areas for coordinated action and called for the global community to remain steadfast in its efforts to ensure a positive trajectory and avoid regression of hard-earned gains. The ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention by States is a crucial commitment in this direction.
We join those urging the Government of the Republic of Turkey to continue protecting and promoting the safety and rights of all women and girls, including by remaining committed to the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which builds on the standards enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women as well as its general recommendations and case law.
At this moment, as Member States meet in the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women to advance the norms and standards that advance women’s rights, we need bolder and game-changing actions that continue to move us forward, in order to ensure that women and girls live free from violence, in line with the principle of gender equality and the commitment to “leave no one behind” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.