Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

The Ad Hoc Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO) was established in December 2008 with approval from the Council of Europe (CoE). Its goal is to create one or more legally binding instruments “to prevent and combat domestic violence, including specific forms of violence against women, and to protect and support the victims of such violence as well as prosecute the perpetrators.”

The CoE Convention on Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence was approved by the CoE in January 2011 after two years of negotiations and drafting. The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-based Violence, or Cosc, actively participated in all phases of the convention’s drafting. The agreement is also known as the Istanbul Convention because it was made available for signing at the Council of Europe Ministers’ meeting in Istanbul in May 2011.

Ireland agrees in principle with the Istanbul Convention’s objectives and provisions. It is a comprehensive convention with a wide range of policy areas and potential legislative and policy repercussions. Member States are urged to apply the convention’s domestic violence provisions to men as well, despite the focus of the convention being violence against women. Ireland endorsed this idea.

In conjunction with the government’s commitment to introduce consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all facets of domestic violence, threatened violence, and intimidation in a way that provides protection to victims, the provisions of the convention and the legislative and administrative arrangements that would be required to allow Ireland to sign and ratify the convention are being examined.

A specific challenge that must be overcome in Ireland’s consideration of the convention, however, is how to reconcile Irish constitutional property rights with the requirement of Article 52 of the convention, which calls for universal access to emergency barring orders.

In light of the need for consultations and other legislative priorities, Cosc is moving forward with the preliminary development of the consolidated and reformed legislation, which includes consideration of the convention provisions.

As the convention needs at least ten ratifications, including eight member states, it has not yet come into force. The Council of Europe website has additional details on the convention, including the full text and an explanation report.