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20 Jun. 2022


Ukraine has ratified the Istanbul Convention: why it is important



Ukraine has ratified the Istanbul Convention: why it is important

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Volodymyr Zelensky has recently introduced a bill to the Parliament to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Today the Verkhovna Rada supported the proposal and ratified the Convention: 259 deputies voted in favor. We sorted out why this is important and how ratification will help Ukraine's European integration.

The essence of the Istanbul Convention

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is the first international agreement to prevent physical and mental violence against women and to prevent impunity for criminals, criminalize psychological violence, harassment forced abortions, and more. That is, any of the crimes listed in the convention is a criminal offense, and the perpetrator will be severely punished. Such a mechanism to protect women must end impunity.

Ukraine signed the agreement in 2011 but has not yet ratified it until now. The convention has now been ratified by 45 countries, including Belgium, France, Italy, and other European Union countries.

Why is the Convention important for Ukraine?

The Parliament of Ukraine must adopt a number of laws that will prove Ukraine's readiness for reforms. The adoption of the Istanbul Convention is one of the main confirmations of Ukraine's decisive actions on the way to the EU.

Guaranteeing human rights is one of the aspects that is taken into account when deciding on granting EU membership to a country. It is important for Ukraine to demonstrate actions that will bring the country and our legislation closer to the European one. Last year, Björn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stressed that the provisions of the Istanbul Convention are stricter than Ukrainian legislation on violence against women. Europe has always encouraged the implementation of international agreements, in particular the Istanbul Convention.

This agreement emphasizes that it is the primary responsibility of every democracy to ensure respect for human rights by establishing a system that prevents violence and punishes the perpetrators.

Ratification of the document is a legal confirmation of Ukraine's desire to reduce the level of domestic violence. The implementation of this international agreement will mean that our state will finance shelters for women and training of social workers. Also, such a step will bring Ukraine closer to other countries that have already ratified the convention.

Ratification of the agreement is of particular importance for Sweden and the Netherlands, countries that initially blocked granting Ukraine candidate status. For these countries, protecting human rights and ensuring gender equality are paramount. The adoption of this Council of Europe Convention is an indicator of a civilized country, which all European states rely on. It is noteworthy that Turkey, which was one of the first to ratify the document, recently denounced the convention and refused European integration.

Six years ago, the parliament already tried to ratify the Istanbul Convention but failed. The reason was the concepts of "gender" and "sexual orientation", which, according to deputies, did not coincide with the "moral values" of Ukrainians. An obstacle to the implementation of the agreement was the Council of Churches of Ukraine, which opposed gender ideology. According to the clergy, it contradicts the basic concepts of biological sex and promotes same-sex relationships.