Violence against women and domestic violence are a violation of human rights. One in three women in Europe has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. The form of violence knows no social status, nor geographical borders, is widely spread and highly underreported.

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence – known as the Istanbul Convention – is at the core of action to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

It operates under two main pillars: the Group of independent Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) and the Committee of the Parties. GREVIO draws up country reports, evaluating legislative and other measures taken by countries. It can initiate a special inquiry to prevent a serious, massive or persistent pattern of any acts of violence covered by the convention. The Committee of the Parties adopts recommendations based on GREVIO evaluation reports and follows up on their implementation. Co-operation with other international organisations and regional and international mechanisms on women’s rights ensures coherence, efficiency, impact and visibility of results.

GREVIO’s aim is that all NGOs active in preventing and combating violence against women can contribute to the evaluation procedure. At the same time, it is aware that NGO resources are limited and although they may be willing to provide input at the early stages of evaluation they may simply not be in a position to do so.

GREVIO strongly encourages NGOs to work through coalitions, networks or platforms, drawing on the experiences gained from NGO participation in other monitoring mechanisms. This remains one of the most viable ways of sharing NGO resources and expertise, of organising the necessary information flow among NGOs and eventually contributing effectively to GREVIO’s work. It may also help GREVIO establish an on-going dialogue with civil society, including during country visits. Where appropriate, national human rights institutions or leading NGOs in the countries under evaluation may co-ordinate NGO reporting to GREVIO.

GREVIO is particularly keen to receive information from women’s and grassroots organisations on the practical implementation of the convention. NGOs consulted by the authorities or otherwise involved in the drawingup of a state report can and should also be heard as independent voices.

NGOs can provide GREVIO with information at any time, even before GREVIO decides to examine the situation in a particular country and set a deadline for state reporting. The information should be provided in one of the official languages of the Council of Europe (English or French).