Ratification of the Istanbul Convention

I last blogged on the approaching ratification of the Istanbul Convention in December 2016 (see also this post). Well, it’s now upon us. On 17 May 2022 the Home Secretary made a Statement regarding ratification of the Istanbul Convention containing this para,

If no objections are raised to ratification of the Convention in either House within the next 21 joint sitting days, the Government will arrange to deposit its instrument of ratification. In line with the requirement under section 1(3)(b) of the 2017 Act I can therefore confirm that I would expect the UK to have ratified the Convention by 31 July 2022.

I have written to my MP asking him to raise an objection – text below. I am hardly optimistic, but it’s worth a shot.

Text of email to MP…

Ratifying the Istanbul Convention

Please raise an Objection to this ratification.

The Istanbul Convention, if ratified, would be in conflict with the Equality Act 2010.

Conflict with Equality Act 2010

In UK processes, Violence Against Women and Girls avoids conflict with the Equality Act 2010 because it is understood as a technical legal expression denoting a category of crime which includes male victims of said crimes.

There is no such provision in regard to the Istanbul Convention which explicitly, literally, refers to the combating of violence against women only. This raises an issue of conflict with the Equality Act 2010 which, as a minimum, requires senior legal ruling.

Background

On 17 May 2022 the Home Secretary made a Statement regarding ratification of the Istanbul Convention containing this para,

If no objections are raised to ratification of the Convention in either House within the next 21 joint sitting days, the Government will arrange to deposit its instrument of ratification. In line with the requirement under section 1(3)(b) of the 2017 Act I can therefore confirm that I would expect the UK to have ratified the Convention by 31 July 2022.

Please raise an Objection on the grounds stated above.

*******

Response received, 26/5/22…..which, as you will see, does not address my point at all, and was clearly prepared for another issue and pressed into service here to save any further effort…

Thank you for contacting me about Turkey and the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention. 

The UK accords a high priority to advancing gender equality and women’s rights across the world. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials regularly raise gender issues, including violence against women and girls (VAWG), in multilateral fora, such as the UN and Council of Europe, and directly with countries where concerns exist. 

I, too, am disappointed that the Turkish Government decided in 2021 to withdraw from Istanbul Convention, of which the UK is also a signatory. As Turkey was the first country to ratify and had taken steps to align its own national legislation with the Istanbul Convention, it is all the more disappointing that it took this decision. 

Ministers at the FCDO urged the Turkish Government to reconsider its decision in March 2021, and have continued to do so since as part of a wider effort to encourage it to abide by its international commitments.

The UK Government continues to be committed to the Convention. Indeed, on 17 May, the Home Secretary confirmed in that the Government is now satisfied that it has the legislative framework and other necessary measures in place to meet the requirements of the Convention. The Government laid the text of the Convention before Parliament on the same day and, if after 21 sitting days, no objection has been raised by Parliament, it will be ratified. 

Thank you for taking the time to write to me on this matter.

Kind regards,
(redacted)
on behalf of
(redacted)

5 thoughts on “Ratification of the Istanbul Convention

  1. Douglas Wallace

    As though they don’t have enough troubles, Ukraine has just ratified the Istanbul Convention.
    Taking advantage of having many of its men fighting for the country’s very existence, the approval has been officially pushed through.
    The Ukrainian MRM is likely to mount a constitutional challenge, so long as they are still alive at the end of the war.
    https://www.coe.int/en/web/kyiv/-/ukraine-writes-its-history-daily-and-approving-the-istanbul-convention-is-one-of-the-most-important-pages-steen-n-rlov

    Reply
  2. Groan

    Thank you for this alert. A very good point about the Equality Act. Only recently demonstrated by the inability of lobbying to get the “gendered” definition written into the most recent abuse act.( though of course it get into guidance and policy ). Many things that happen, even in Parliament and public services, are not legal as such; but their illegality can only be established by successful cases going to tribunals or courts.
    This is an example. I have no doubt the Home Secretary will not have done more than read a briefing paper by a civil servant, who is unlikely to have read the Convention itself rather than a briefing by favoured lobbyists. Equally probably no MP or “lord” will have read the Convention itself and will not have thought beyond the obvious “virtue signalling” of protecting women and children.
    I hope our letters persuade a few to actually read the convention.
    On a broader point in fact there are in fact very very few legal rights that belong to one sex. The many things that get quoted as “sex based rights” in the “terf wars” are either social conventions or preferential treatment as a result of favouring females as a matter of policy. All too infrequently men challenge these and they are found to be illegal.

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  3. Mike

    Really valuable to write to your MP and to make it simple, as suggested here.
    However, the Istanbul Convention has many more flaws than this one – GPUK has made a page, if any readers are interested in wider issues. https://genderparity.uk/istanbul-convention/
    Letters about other issues will also be useful. general rules for effective letters:

    Tell them what you want them to do.
    keep it short.
    make one major point.
    keep it polite, assume they will agree
    expect to get an unhelpful initial response and then send a second message.

    Reply

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