Side Event at 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Side Event at the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women co-organised by the Council of Europe and the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations

Concluding Remarks by Ms Gabriela Battaini-Dragoni,

Deputy Secretary General, Council of Europe

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • This has been an inspiring and invigorating session!  It is very encouraging to witness the political will, the determination and the commitment to take action to tackle violence against women and domestic violence!


  • We agree that violence against women is a violation of human rights, that culture, religion, or tradition can be no excuse.


  • The discussions illustrated that gender based violence is a global concern, affecting all countries and women regardless of their origin, cultural, religious, economic or social background. It happens everywhere in the street, at work and the safety of homes!


  • The added value of the Council of Europe Convention is that it provides a comprehensive legal framework which calls for a multidisciplinary approach in the development of integrated strategies. It also establishes a mechanism to monitor if State Parties comply with their obligations, assess progress, identify trends and guide the international community to better focus their action to combat gender-based and domestic violence.


  • By ratifying the Convention, governments are obliged not only to change their laws, but also to introduce practical measures and allocate resources to reach "zero tolerance" for violence against women and domestic violence.


  • The Istanbul Convention makes it clear that violence against women and domestic violence can no longer be considered as a private matter but that states have an obligation to prevent violence, protect victims and punish the perpetrators.


  • We heard about the commitment and the very important role that parliaments and parliamentarians play to pass legislation and to remind governments of their responsibilities. And here I would like to pay special tribute to the important contribution by the Parliamentary Assembly in drafting the Convention and the vital role that the Network of Parliamentarians is playing in promoting the ratification of the Convention.


  • We heard about the crucial role of civil society, in particular NGOs. It is indeed essential to create the conditions for open dialogue, efficient and sustainable partnerships. This is all the more important when resources are so scarce and the problems so acute.


  • As stated, there are many factors that contribute to the high numbers of women and girls in Europe subjected to one or more of the many forms of gender-based violence. Among these are the discrimination of women by law, the low de facto position of women in society as well as gender relations and gender-based stereotypes. These three areas, identified by the CEDAW Committee as central to eradicating discrimination, require immediate attention in order to achieve de facto equality between women and men. The Istanbul Convention recognises this and links the eradication of violence against women firmly with the achievement of equality between women and men. It is therefore not only a tool to address violence against women but to achieve greater equality between women and men. As such, it concerns not only governments but every social actor and every individual.


  • It is very encouraging to hear so much praise about the Istanbul Convention as the most advanced legally binding treaty, an excellent tool to bring an end to violence against women and domestic violence. We learned that it is made in Europe but not for Europe only and it has the potential to become a global instrument to bring an end to violence against women and domestic violence. This can be achieved by signing and ratifying the Convention, or by using the Convention and its provisions as a model when drafting legislation, action plans and designing policies to tackle this serious violation of human rights.


  • The Istanbul Convention is indeed a pragmatic, advanced and sophisticated tool. But its value cannot be proved by displaying it in a shelf. A tool is made to be used.  The success of the Istanbul Convention and the success of our efforts to tackle violence against women and domestic violence, will largely depend on governments political will and the continuous engagement of parliaments and parliamentarians, local authorities and civil society. We have to make sure that the issue of violence against women and domestic violence stays high on the political agenda as long as needed. Co-operation between international organisations should also act as a catalyser allowing all these positive forces to converge towards the effective protection of women's human dignity. The Council of Europe will continue to join forces with the United Nations, the European Union and other regional organisations so that women across the world can feel the real meaning of our mission and community of values.


  • I genuinely believe that this side event and the potential offered by the Istanbul Convention, will contribute to the success of the CSW57 session. And success means taking action NOW to ensure that women and girls are safe from fear, safe from violence, wherever and whoever they are!