On 23 November 2022, the Council of Europe project “Combatting violence against women in Ukraine” (COVAW) organised an online international round table which brought together about 60 participants who discussed implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) during armed conflict.
Speakers at the round table noted that even in the conditions of war, Ukraine has shown its commitment to fight violence against women and domestic violence by ratifying the Istanbul Convention. Representatives of the government agencies outlined the main tasks faced by Ukraine as regards implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which include bringing Ukrainian legislation in line with convention standards, provision of adequate social services to victims of violence against women and domestic violence, and the development of training programs for professionals.
The relevance of the Istanbul Convention during armed conflict was widely discussed. International speakers focused on provisions of the Istanbul Convention which were particularly pertinent during wartime, and the importance of framing violence against women and girls as a human rights issue. Sareta Ashraph presented the newly published Manual on Working with Victims of Sexual Violence during armed conflict for Ukrainian mental health and emergency response professionals, which was developed under the COVAW project training component. Ukrainian non-governmental organisations funded under the project shared their experience with Istanbul Convention implementation on the ground and provided context of the current conditions of women and girls facing violence in Ukraine.
The discussion on the applicability of the Istanbul Convention during armed conflict was followed up by a practical discussion about Ukraine’s access to the GREVIO monitoring mechanism of the Istanbul Convention and next steps. Speakers from Switzerland and Croatia shared experience of their countries from ratification to the completion of the first baseline evaluation report.