General Reports on GREVIO’s activities
1st General Report on GREVIO's activities
GREVIO’s 1st General Activity Report covers the first four years of GREVIO’s mandate: from June 2015 to May 2019. It explains its mandate and composition and provides an overview of GREVIO’s working methods and evaluation procedure as well as its co-operation with civil society and other stakeholders. It offers important insights into the trends and challenges in the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and demonstrates how, as an independent monitoring body, GREVIO has joined the ranks of other global and regional women’s rights monitoring bodies and mandates.
Foreword by Feride Acar, GREVIO's first President
Violence against women is a structural and global phenomenon that knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Recognising the seriousness of the phenomenon and its impact on victims and on society, as well as the need for harmonised legal standards to ensure that victims benefit from the same level of protection everywhere in Europe, the Council of Europe decided in 2009 to draft a legally-binding treaty in this field. The convention was drafted over the course of just over two years and was opened for signature on 11 May 2011 in Istanbul, the city after which it is often named. Following its 10th ratification the treaty entered into force on 1 August 2014.
Establishment of the procedural and organisational framework of GREVIO’s activities
The monitoring mechanism of the Istanbul Convention has been set up to assess and improve the implementation of this innovative instrument by states parties. It consists of two distinct but interacting pillars: the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO), an independent expert body, and the Committee of the Parties, a political body composed of official representatives of the states parties to the convention.
GREVIO’s working methods
In line with Article 68, paragraph 3, of the convention and Rule 30 of GREVIO’s Rules of Procedure, GREVIO launched its first (baseline) evaluation procedure in 2016. It covers the convention in its entirety, leaving aside only Chapter VIII of the convention, and consists of a comprehensive analysis of states parties’ level of compliance. The evaluation process of each state party, from the first transmission of the questionnaire (see under letter b. below) to the publication of GREVIO’s findings in the baseline evaluation report, can take up to 18 months. The baseline evaluation procedure is made up of several steps, each of which allows GREVIO to obtain critical information upon which to base its reports.
Focus section: first trends and challenges emerging from country monitoring
In the period under review, GREVIO has published first baseline evaluation reports on Albania, Austria, Denmark, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. On-site evaluations of Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Serbia have also been carried out. As indicated earlier, the evaluation reports assess states parties’ implementation of the convention, looking at the normative framework, as well as at states’ policies and practices. The growing corpus of these evaluation reports indicates that the convention has already had a tangible and positive impact. It has, for one thing, propelled gender-based violence to the forefront of public debate and increased victims’ and society’s awareness of the urgent need to combat it. It has also introduced higher legislative and policy standards at the national level in a number of countries. It is also clear through the on-site evaluation visits that the convention is extremely well regarded by women’s organisations, victims’ associations and state authorities alike. It is looked on as a beacon that sheds much needed light on the legislative and practical measures required to prevent violence against women, protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
Relation with the Committee of the Parties
Through their complementary and co-operative actions, GREVIO and the Committee of the Parties represent the two vital branches of the monitoring mechanism of the convention. Rule 26 of GREVIO’s internal Rules of Procedure stipulates in its first paragraph that the President (of GREVIO) shall periodically meet with the Committee of the Parties to inform it about the state of the work of GREVIO and progress in preparing GREVIO’s reports and conclusions concerning the measures taken by the Parties to implement the provisions of the Istanbul Convention, as well as any other issue relating to the good functioning of the monitoring mechanism of the convention.
Co-operation with other Council of Europe bodies and institutions
Early on into its work, GREVIO sought to establish constructive synergies with other relevant organs and structures of the Council of Europe. It holds regular exchanges of views with the Committee of Ministers and the Gender Equality Commission, and co-operates with the Commissioner for Human Rights, especially in the framework of their respective country visits. GREVIO has nurtured effective working relations with the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence, which acted as interlocutors with national parliaments during the convention’s ratification, implementation and monitoring phases. With a view to the growing case law in the area of violence against women emanating from the European Court of Human Rights, GREVIO has taken initiatives to build co-operation with the judges of the Court.
Co-operation with civil society and national institutions for the protection of human rights
Civil society has long played an important role in preventing and combating violence against women, initiating progress in this area and shaping political and public awareness. Vital services for women victims of violence are provided by the non-governmental sector, and many organisations have built up expertise and knowledge over several decades. The Istanbul Convention duly recognises the importance of involving NGOs in all efforts to end violence against women at national level. It also sets out the opportunity for NGOs and national human rights institutions to contribute to the monitoring work of GREVIO, which a growing number of them are doing (see Section 3.c and below).
Establishment of working relations with other international organisations
Co-operation and partnerships are indispensable prerequisites for successful international action against violence against women and domestic violence. GREVIO is mindful of the need to exchange information and good practices among international organisations concerning their activities, work plans and priorities in the field of combating violence against women and protecting victims. At the same time, GREVIO is ready to explore areas where joint activities can be carried out and which can benefit from the input, institutional support and resources of several organisations.
The publication and effective dissemination of GREVIO’s first baseline evaluation reports is an important step for increasing the impact of GREVIO’s work among different stakeholders. In accordance with Article 68, paragraph 11, of the convention, GREVIO reports and conclusions are made public as from their adoption, together with any comments by the party concerned. A total of eight GREVIO baseline evaluation reports were published during the reporting period and are available on the Istanbul Convention’s website, together with the comments of the respective national authorities. A press release is issued whenever a report is published. On this occasion, interviews may be given by GREVIO members and the Secretariat in order to provide information on the report and evaluation process.
The Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention and its monitoring mechanism provide a considerable contribution to global efforts to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Through its baseline evaluation reports, GREVIO contributes to the strengthening of national efforts to combat violence against women by giving advice to the authorities on legislative and policy developments. The reports provide an authoritative source of information on different aspects, identifying gaps, needs and good practices in the parties to the convention. Their relevance goes beyond the parties directly concerned and can serve as guidance to all other countries and actors involved, including those who are not yet parties to the Istanbul Convention.