Women Protest In Istanbul, Turkey - 24 May 2021 - Murat Baykara/Zuma Press/ISOPIX
Women Protest In Istanbul, Turkey - 24 May 2021 - Murat Baykara/Zuma Press/ISOPIX

Education International strongly condemns Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention

Education International Executive Board Statement

published 31 May 2021 updated 4 June 2021

The 2011 Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is a landmark instrument that recognises the structural nature of gender-based violence and provides a clear roadmap for States to prevent, prosecute and eliminate gender-based violence and domestic violence.

Turkey was the first signatory of the Convention and enthusiastic host of the negotiations a decade ago; the decision to withdraw weakens and undermines multilateralism and states’ accountability under international law, and signals a regression from the commitment to equality, democracy and the rule of law.

The Istanbul Convention is in alignment with other key international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and remains the most holistic and progressive international instrument against gender-based violence to date.

Education trade unions all over the world call on the Turkish government to:

Reverse the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention with immediate effect, and act to ensure the right to freedom from violence for all, in accordance with Turkey’s Constitution, national legal frameworks and other binding international human rights treaties to which it is party;

Reaffirm its commitment to protect and promote the human rights of women, girls, LGBTQ+ persons, minorities and all who are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence and domestic violence.

We call on the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Council and all EU Member States to:

Prioritise and promote ratification of the Istanbul Convention by EU member states without delay and speed up EU accession to the Convention as promised by the Council Decision of 2017;

Prioritise and promote implementation of the Convention in countries where it is ratified and urge countries that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention.

We call on EI member organisations to:

Raise awareness of the Istanbul Convention amongst their members; and

Support civil society advocacy and join progressive efforts to accelerate progress on gender equality, human rights and democracy in their countries.

On March 20th, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced by Presidential decree (No.9) that his country will withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. Turkey signed the Convention a decade ago and ratified it a year later in 2012; the official process of withdrawal was begun on March 22nd, 2021, when the Council of Europe was notified of the decision, and it is expected to be completed by July 2021. The Istanbul Convention remains in force and applicable in Turkey until then.