Council of Europe - Istanbul Convention
Updated May, 2014
On April 7, 2011, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention.[1] The Convention was the product of nearly a decade of work by the Council of Europe to combat violence against women, notably including the adoption of Recommendation Rec(2002)5 by the Committee of Ministers.[2] Although many resolutions and reports were issued by various bodies of the Council of Europe on this topic (see Resolutions, Reports and Advocacy Campaigns section), they were advisory opinions only and not legally binding on member states. In order to fill this gap, in 2008 an Ad Hoc Committee on prevention and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO) was created by the Committee of Ministers for the task of preparing a legally binding instrument in the area of violence against women.[3] CAHVIO decided to do a single Convention addressing all forms of violence against women and proceeded to draft the Convention over the course of nine subsequent meetings with government representatives and other stakeholders.[4]
The Convention is the first legally binding instrument in Europe to create a comprehensive legal framework to protect women from acts of violence as well as prevent, prosecute and eliminate all forms of violence against women.[5] The Convention is also significant in that it establishes an international mechanism to monitor its implementation at the national level.[6]
The Convention focuses on four major themes: prevention, protection, prosecution, and monitoring.[7] The Convention also provides specific guidance for migration and asylum, integrating policies against multiple sectors and promoting international cooperation. Regarding prevention, the Convention mandates several actions, including training professionals who are in contact with victims, running awareness campaigns, developing education materials, and creating treatment programs for perpetrators.[8] For protection, the Convention focuses on removing obstacles that could prevent someone from reporting a crime, granting police power to remove perpetrators from the home, ensuring access to information for victims, and it requires the provision of services to victims, including mandates on shelters, telephone hotlines, specialist support services, crisis centers, and legal assistance.[9] To ensure prosecution of perpetrators, the Convention defines and criminalizes various forms of violence against women.[10] It also creates substantive law on aggravating factors, compensation, jurisdiction issues, custody issues, and civil remedies,[11] as well as addressing immediate response guidelines, protective orders, evidence standards, statutes of limitations, and other aspects of judicial proceedings.[12]
As a legally binding instrument, once the Convention enters into force the state parties will be monitored by a group of independent experts (GREVIO) to ensure that they are meeting their Convention obligations.[13] GREVIO will receive reports from the states as well as draw on information about compliance collected from civil society. The GREVIO will then adopt reports and conclusions in order to help state parties better implement the Convention. The GREVIO will be supervised by a Committee of the Parties, consisting of representatives from each party to the Convention.[14]
The Istanbul Convention required ratifications from 10 states to enter into force, and Andorra became the tenth state to do so on April 22, 2014.  The Convention will enter into force on August 1, 2014[16]

[1] Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Council of Europe, 12 Apr. 2011,  [hereinafter Istanbul Convention].
[2] “Recommendation Rec(2002)5 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the protection of women against violence,” Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Rec(2002)5, 30 Apr. 2002, available at .
[3] “Handbook for Parliamentarians: Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),” Council of Europe, 17, Aug. 2012, available at
[4] Id., at 17.
[5] See “Council of Europe adopts new convention to prevent and combat violence against women,” Council of Europe, 2011, .
[6] Id.
[7] Istanbul Convention .
[8] Id., Art. 12-17. See also “Prevention,” Council of Europe, .
[9] Istanbul Convention, Art. 18-28, also “Protection,” Council of Europe, .
[10] Istanbul Convention, Art 33-41, .
[11] Id., Art. 28 – 48.
[12] Id., Art 49-58.
[13] Id., Art 66-70. See also “Monitoring,” Council of Europe,
[14] Id.
[15] Istanbul Convention, Art. 75, .
[16] Europe: Convention on Violence Against Women Takes Effect in August