Resolutions, Reports and Advocacy Campaigns
Updated February 8, 2013
 
While the Istanbul Convention represents the latest development in the Council of Europe’s work on violence against women, the foundations for the Convention were laid by decades of recommendations and reports on violence against women by the Council. In 1985, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation No. R (85)4, Recommendation on Violence in the Family.[1] This recommendation urged member states to raise public awareness on issues of violence in the family, provide training to employees interacting with victims, and review legislation and organization structures in order to deal with cases more effectively.[2] In 1990 the COE’s Committee Ministers followed with Recommendation on Social Measures concerning Violence within the Family (Recommendation No. R(90) 2), which focused on prevention methods,[3] and again in 1991 with the Recommendation on Emergency Family Matters (Recommendation No. R(91) 9), which empowered courts to expedite protective measures in family cases where one party is in danger.[4]
 
Violence against women, including domestic violence, has also been a consistent subject of the European Ministerial Conferences on Equality between Women and Men.[5] The theme of the Third Conference in Rome in 1993, for example, was "Strategies for the elimination of violence against women in society: the media and other means."[6] At the conclusion of that conference the Ministers adopted the Declaration on Policies for Combating Violence Against Women in a Democratic Europe that, among other things, recommended that the COE draft and implement a plan of action to combat violence against women.[7] The Plan of Action to Combat Violence Against Women (EG-S-VL (98) 1) was finalized in 1998 and, in addition to outlining findings on the scope of the problem and work already taken, creates a Plan of Action with a number of strategies to combat domestic violence, including legislative, judicial and law enforcement reforms.[8] The Plan also emphasizes the importance of prevention, education, assistance to victims and treatment of perpetrators.[9] A follow-up forum on “Ending domestic violence: action and measures” was held later that year in Romania.[10]
 
            The Plan of Action was supplemented by numerous other recommendations on violence against women. In 1998, the Committee of Ministers issued a recommendation on “Family Mediation” (Recommendation No R(98)1), which, while recommending that family mediation be promoted also noted that "the mediator should pay particular regard to whether violence has occurred in the past or may occur in the future between the parties and the effect this may have on the parties' bargaining positions, and should consider whether in these circumstances the mediation process is appropriate."[11] In 2000, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation 1450 on violence against women in Europe.[12] In this Recommendation, the Parliamentary Assembly called on the Committee of Ministers to create a European program to combat violence against women, with the aim of, among other things:
 
[B]ringing in legislation outlawing all forms of domestic violence; establishing legal recognition of marital rape and making it a criminal offence; ensuring greater protection for women, for example by means of orders restraining violent husbands from entering the marital home and measures to properly enforce penalties and sentences; [and] ensuring greater flexibility as regards both access to justice and the availability of various procedures, with provision for ex officio action by the authorities, in camera hearings and court benches made up equally of female and male judges.[13]
 
Likewise a recommendation on The Protection of Women Against Violence (Rec (2002) 5), was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2002.[14] In that resolution, the Committee, reaffirming that violence against women stems from an imbalance of power and is a form of discrimination that violates human rights, called on member states to exercise due diligence in preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of violence against women.[15] Specifically the recommendation urged states to review their legislation, encourage institutions dealing with violence against women to develop action plans, and promote research, data collecting and networking.[16] The recommendation also attached an appendix of concrete measures that should be taken at the national and local levels, including reforms for the media, law enforcement, judiciary, and legislation.[17] The implementation of this recommendation was reviewed in 2004 by the Council of Europe in a report entitled “Implementation of and Follow-up to Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the Protection of Women against Violence” (EG-S-MV (2004) RAP FIN rev).[18] Follow-up reports on implementation were also issued in 2007,[19] 2008,[20] and 2010.[21]
 
            The Council of Europe also released a series of reports relating to men and domestic violence. The first was a seminar in 1999 on “Men and Violence against women”[22] (EG-SEM-VIO (1999) 21). This was followed by a seminar on “Measures dealing with men perpetrators of domestic violence,”[23] a seminar on “Therapeutic treatment of men perpetrators of violence within the family,”[24] and a seminar on “Violence within the family: the place and role of men.”[25] The Council also released a report summarizing the Council’s actions to combat violence against women from 1995 to 2002.[26]
 
In October 2004 the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly issued Recommendation 1681, Campaign to Combat Domestic Violence against Women in Europe, expressing its concern about the rising level of domestic violence against women in Europe, and outlining a plan for a pan-European campaign against domestic violence in 2006.[27]  The goals of such a campaign would be three-fold: prevention, victim assistance and increased public information.[28]  The recommendation urges Member States to prioritize the issue of domestic violence and suggests ways for government, parliament and civil society to work together on the issue.[29]
 
In preparation for the pan-European campaign, two important reports on violence against women were released in 2006. In May of 2006, the Parliamentary Assembly issued a report entitled "Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women" (Doc. 10934).[30] The report contains measures and actions which will enable national parliaments to take an active role in the campaign to combat violence against women, including "...appointing a member of each parliament to act as point of contact, condemning domestic violence explicitly and publicly, adopting legislative measures and evaluating their effectiveness, and the running of awareness-raising campaigns targeting the public and socio-professional players."[31] The Directorate General of Human Rights also created a report for the European Council, entitled “Combating violence against women” that summarized all actions taken by Council of Europe member states.[32]
 
To mark the beginning of the pan-European campaign on violence against women, the Parliamentary Assembly passed two resolutions. On June 28, 2006, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1512, which decried domestic violence as one of the most widespread violations of human rights.[33]  It rejected any arguments based on cultural or religious relativism which would lead states to avoid their obligation to eliminate all forms of violence against women and encouraged parliaments to actively combat domestic violence by taking public stances against it, adopting appropriate legislative responses and creating budgetary measures and national plans.[34] The Parliamentary Assembly simultaneously adopted Resolution 1759, in which it called upon the Committee of Ministers to make the fight against domestic violence a priority activity in 2006-2008, to allocate the funds necessary to ensure the success of the pan-European campaign to combat violence against women, and to support the efforts of NGOs to raise public awareness and offer protection to victims.[35] The Assembly also urged the Committee of Ministers to "step up its co-operation with the European Union in order to develop a common method for compiling statistics on violence within the family."[36]
 
The campaign to end violence against women, including domestic violence created by Recommendation 1681 was implemented in 2006 and ran until 2008.[37] The campaign was aimed at spreading four primary messages:
• combating domestic violence calls for joint public action;
• domestic violence is a human rights violation;
• domestic violence seriously injures women and damages the whole of society, including future generations; and
• domestic violence calls for men’s active participation to combat violence against women.[38]
Member states were also urged to make progress in the areas of legal and policy measures, support and protection for victims, data collection and awareness raising.[39] As part of the data collection goal, the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs released a report on “Administrative data collection on domestic violence in Council of Europe member states.”[40]
 
On October 3, 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1582 as a midterm assessment of the campaign.[41] It emphasized the need for the parliaments to intensify their efforts to make the campaign have a real impact, and included numerous suggestions for specific actions, including setting up sufficient numbers of emergency shelters, providing for orders for protection to remove violent spouses, allocating sufficient funding to implement the laws, and monitoring the application of laws on violence against women.[42] During the campaign, the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs issued a report on minimum standards for support services for violence against women.[43] A final activity report on the campaign was issued in 2008 to make concluding recommendations.[44] Among other things it recommended the creation of a binding convention on violence against women and the establishment of a special rapporteur on violence against women for Europe.[45] In 2009, following the campaign, the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs compiled “Legislation in the member states of the Council of Europe in the field of violence against women,” which is divided into two volumes: Volume 1: Armenia to Lithuania[46] and Volume 2: Moldova to United Kingdom.[47] The Council also prepared a Summary Fact Sheet on combating violence against women.[48]
 


[1] “Recommendation No. R (85) 4 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Social Measures Concerning Violence in the Family,” Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Rec. No. R (85) 4, Mar. 26, 1985, http://www.coe.am/en/docs/priorities/child/2.pdf.
[2] Ibid.
[3]“Recommendation No. R (90) 2 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Violence in the Family,” Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Rec. No. R (90) 2, 15 Jan. 1990, https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=569827&SecMode=1&DocId=589942&Usage=2
[4]“Recommendation No. R (91) 9 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Emergency Measures in Family Matters,” Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Rec. No. R (91) 9, 9 Sept. 1991, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/violence/Documents/Recommendation%20(91)9%20emergency%20measures%20in%20the%20family.asp.
[6] “3rd European Ministerial Conference on equality between women and men,” Council of Europe, Rome, 21-22 Oct.1993, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/05conferences/ministerial-conferences/3rd-Ministerial%20Conference/index_en.asp.
[7] “Declaration on Policies for Combating Violence against Women in a Democratic Europe,” Council of Europe, adopted at 3rd European Ministerial Conference on equality between women and men, Rome, 22 Oct. 1993, http://www.europrofem.org/contri/2_04_en/en-gend/05en_gen.htm.
[8] “Summary of the Plan of Action to combat violence against women,” Council of Europe, Doc. EG-S-VL (98) 1 June 1998, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-S-VL(1998)1_en.pdf.
[9] Ibid.
[10] “Ending domestic violence: action and measures,” Council of Europe, Doc. EG/BUC (99) 1, Romania, 26-28 Nov. 1998, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-BUC(1999)1_en.pdf.
[11] “Recommendation No. R (98) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Family Mediation,” Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Rec. No. R (98) 1, 21 Jan. 1998, http://www.mediate.com/articles/EuroFam.cfm.
[12] “Violence against women in Europe,” Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, Recommendation 1450 (2000), http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=http%3A%2F%2Fassembly.coe.int%2FDocuments%2FAdoptedText%2Fta00%2FEREC1450.htm.
[13] Ibid.
[14] “Recommendation No. 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, https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=280915&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackColorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] “Implementation and Follow-up to Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the Protection of Violence against Violence, Council of Europe, Doc. EG-S-MV (2004) RAP FIN, 2005, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-S-MV(2004)RAPFINrev_en.pdf.
[19] Hagemann-White, Carol and Sabine Bohn, “Protecting women against violence: Analytical study on the effective implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Doc. CDEG (2007) 3, 2007,  http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/CDEG(2007)3_en.pdf.
[20] Hagemann-White, Carol, “Protecting women against violence: Analytical study on the effective implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Doc. CDEG (2008) 2, 2008, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/CDEG(2008)2rev_en.pdf.
[21] Hagemann-White, Carol, “Protecting women against violence: Analytical study on the effective implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Doc. CDEG (2010) 12, 2010, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/cdeg_2010_12en.pdf.
[22] “Seminar: Men and Violence against Women,” Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 7-8 Oct. 1999, Doc. EG/SEM/VIO (99) 21, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-SEM-VIO(1999)21_en.pdf.
[23] “Measures dealing with men perpetrators of domestic violence,”
 Council of Europe, Strasbourg, June 25-26, 2003, Doc. EG-SEM-MV (2003), http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-SEM-MV(2003)Proceedings_en.pdf.
[24] “Therapeutic treatment of men perpetrators of violence within the family,”
 Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 18-19 Nov. 2004, Doc. EG-SEM-MV (2004), http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-SEM-MV(2004)Proceedings_en.pdf.
[25] “Violence within the family: the place and role of men,” Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6-7 Dec. 2005, Doc. EG-SEM-MV (2005), http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-SEM-MV(2005)Proceedings_en.pdf.
[26] “Violence against women: Compilation of the main texts of the Council of Europe since 1995,” Council of Europe, Doc. EG (2004) 5 Oct. 2002, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG(2004)5_en.pdf.
[27] “Campaign to combat domestic violence against women in Europe,” Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, Recommendation 1681 (2004), http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/AdoptedText/ta04/EREC1681.htm.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Hagemann-White, Carol, “Combating violence against women: Stocktaking study on the measures and actions taken in Council of Europe member States,” Directorate General of Human Rights, Council of Europe, Doc. CDEG (2006) 3, 2006, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/CDEG(2006)3_en.pdf.
[33] “Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women,” Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, Resolution 1512 (2006), http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta06/Eres1512.htm.
[34] Ibid.
[35] “Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women,” Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, Resolution 1759 (2006), http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta06/Erec1759.htm.
[36] Ibid.
[37] “Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence (2006-2008),” Council of Europe, http://www.coe.int/t/dg2/equality/domesticviolencecampaign/default_EN.asp?. The final report on the campaign can be accessed at http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-TFV(2008)5-rev1_en.pdf.
[38] “Fact sheet: The Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence,” Council of Europe, http://www.coe.int/t/dg2/equality/domesticviolencecampaign/Fact_Sheet_en.asp.
[39] See Ruuskanen, Elina and Kauko Aromaa, “Administrative data collection on domestic violence in Council of Europe member states,” Council of Europe, Doc. EG-VAW-DC(2008)Study, 2008, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-VAW-DC(2008)_en.pdf.
[40] Ibid.
[41] “Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women: mid-term assessment of the campaign,” Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, Resolution 1582 (2007), http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/ERES1582.htm.
[42] Ibid.
[43] Kelly, Liz and Lorna Dubois, “Combating violence against women: minimum standards for support services,” Council of Europe, Doc. EG-VAW-CONF (2007) Study, 2007, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-VAW-CONF(2007)Studyrev_en.pdf.
[44] “Final Activity Report: Proposals for future action of the Council of Europe and its member States to prevent and combat violence against women,” Task Force to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence, Council of Europe, Doc. EG-TFV (2008) 5, 2008, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG-TFV(2008)5-rev1_en.pdf.
[45] Ibid.  This recommendation was implemented with the creation of the Istanbul Convention in 2011.
[46] “Legislation in the member States of the Council of Europe in the field of violence against women: Volume 1, Armenia to Lithuania,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Doc. EG (2009) 3 Volume I, 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG(2009)3-vol1_en.pdf.
[47] “Legislation in the member States of the Council of Europe in the field of violence against women: Volume 2, Moldova to United Kingdom,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Doc. EG (2009) 3 Volume II, 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/EG(2009)3-vol2_en.pdf.
[48] “Combating violence against women,” Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs: Gender Equality Division, Council of Europe, 30 Sept. 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/violence-against-women/Facsheet-VAW_en.pdf.