23 Mar 2021

Council of Europe: Istanbul Convention

Bishop Robert has called the decision by Turkey to withdraw from the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence “a deeply concerning setback”.

Turkey announced its decision to withdraw from the Convention on 20 March. 

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, responded swiftly to the announcement from Ankara:

“Turkey‘s announced withdrawal from the Council of Europe‘s Istanbul Convention on violence against women is devastating news. The Istanbul Convention covers 34 European countries and is widely regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence that they face every day in our societies.

This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond.”

Yesterday, the current Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, which brings together the 47 Member States of the CoE, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, and the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Rik Daems followed up with a joint statement, in which they "deeply regret the decision of the President of Turkey to withdraw from this Convention widely supported in the country, without any parliamentary debate."

For the European Union, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell Fontelles said:

"The Istanbul Convention aims at ensuring essential legal protection to women & girls across the world. We cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government to withdraw from this convention. We urge Turkey to reverse its decision."

President of the Commission, Dr Ursula von der Leyen added in a tweet:

“Violence against women is not tolerable.  Women deserve a strong legal framework to protect them.  I support the #IstanbulConvention and call on all signatories to ratify it.

In a statement issued by the White House, President Biden has called the announcement by Turkey “sudden and unwarranted”.

Bishop Robert has written to the Council of Europe and the EU offering strong support to the statements issued by both organisations, emphasising:

“You may be assured that Anglicans across Europe, as members of the global Anglican Communion, will continue to campaign for the ratification of the Convention by all Member States of the Council of Europe, and to support EU and Council of Europe policies and programmes that will prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, and promote Gender Justice.  

I will likewise continue to work with my fellow bishops in the Church of England in their ongoing efforts in the UK Parliament to press the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention.”

In 2020, the Diocese actively promoted the Istanbul Convention with a video by Bishop Robert and a social media campaign engaging women across the Diocese as part of the global #16days effort supported annually by the Anglican Communion.

For more information on the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention, EU gender equality strategy and Anglican campaigning on Gender Justice, please visit:

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