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The Current State of Interpretation of the Istanbul Convention by GREVIO and Possible Resulting Interactions with the ECHR

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, commonly referred to as the Istanbul Convention, is a fundamental human rights treaty adopted in 2011. Since its adoption, it has caused continuous discussions on national and international levels across the European continent and beyond.

The Istanbul Convention is the first human rights treaty to explicitly and bindingly classify violence against women as a human rights violation and a form of discrimination against women. Covering 81 articles, the Convention develops a comprehensive system of prevention of and protection from violence against women, aiming at the creation of equivalent national standards. It is especially notable that the Convention contains its own controlling mechanism based on a monitoring system supervised by the expert commission GREVIO. So far, 34 states have ratified the Convention and eleven have signed it. In addition, the EU signed it in 2017 and since has continued the ongoing process of ratification.

At regular intervals member states have to send a report to GREVIO setting out the current state of implementation of the Istanbul Convention in their country. GREVIO analyses the current situation in the member state, taking into account not only the state report but also reports by NGOs and civil society. The expert commission then writes its own report, evaluating the current situation in the state and encouraging them to adopt missing measures and improve grievances. GREVIO hence monitors the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and clarifies questions concerning its interpretation. The thesis analyses the evaluation reports and sets out the interpretation of the Istanbul Convention by GREVIO. It tackles open questions which still require clarification.

Furthermore, the thesis examines past and possible future interactions between the Istanbul Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. The two treaties have a close relationship since the Istanbul Convention was drafted considering earlier ECtHR jurisprudence and – after its entry into force – started to influence the decisions of the ECtHR. The latter is of particular interest since an influence on the interpretation of the ECHR would result in influence on the interpretation of the EU Charta of Fundamental Rights and the national law of the member states of the ECHR. This is important because the EU and also some member states of the ECHR have not yet signed or ratified the Istanbul Convention.


Friederike Erk