Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)


Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina

25 to 27 September 2013

The international legal and policy framework on women’s rights and gender equality comprises a wide range of agreements – including legally-binding agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979) and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Belém do Pará Convention, 1994), as well as numerous political commitments.


This international legal and policy framework provides a strong basis for an effective response to the rights of women in the region. While Latin America and the Caribbean has made the most progress in the formal recognition of women’s rights – from the adoption of international and inter-American level commitments and the recognition of equality between women and men at the constitutional level, to the formulation of laws and public policies on women’s rights and gender equality – this progress still has not translated into adequate protection and guarantees of the rights of women.


Of particular concern are the continuing gaps in women’s access to justice and in judicial action and jurisprudence on women’s rights in the region, particularly in the area of violence against women and despite the existence of some landmark decisions. As UN Women highlights, “…despite the fact that equality between women and men is guaranteed in the Constitutions of 139 countries and territories, the lack of adequate laws and the gaps in the implementation of existing norms turns these guarantees into empty promises that have little impact on women’s daily lives.”


In many contexts, the justice sector has failed to respect women’s rights, which has resulted in the inadequate delivery of services and a hostile attitude on the part of those responsible for meeting women’s needs. The progress of women in the world shows that effective legal and judicial systems can become vital mechanisms for the respect and protection of women’s rights, as they can facilitate accountability, rein in abuses of power and establish new norms. Justice tribunals have been key spaces for the vindication of women’s rights and the setting of legal precedents that have benefitted countless women.


In this context, this international seminar seeks to analyze the current situation of gender justice, identifying both persistent obstacles and good practices that exist in the countries of the region. On the basis of this analysis, the seminar will conclude with the identification of specific areas of hemispheric cooperation that will foster and maximize the potential of gender justice as a powerful tool in the struggle against gender-based violence and discrimination.


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Ms Marja Ruotanen, Director, Justice and Human Dignity Directorate, Council of Europe

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