Başak Çalı analyses how the Council of Europe could have responded to Turkey’s exit from the Istanbul Convention

Professor of International Law and co-author draws lessons from Turkey’s exit from Europe’s Treaty on combatting violence against women. 

In March 2021 when Turkey announced its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention – the Council of Europe’s human rights treaty against violence against women – national governments, civil society and the international legal community voiced their concerns and outrage.

In a post from 28 November on EJIL:Talk!, the European Journal of International Law blog, Hertie School Centre for Fundamental Rights Co-director and Professor of International Law Başak Çalı challenges the Council of Europe’s reaction to Turkey’s withdrawal together with co-author Laurence R. Helfer, Professor of Law at Duke University. The blog post outlines why the legal response of the Council of Europe states was inadequate and why the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body, produced an ‘especially disappointing’ report on treaty withdrawals. Instead, the authors outline two alternative legal approaches that the Council of Europe could have and, according to the authors, should have pursued:

  1. To demand more scrutiny of human rights treaty withdrawals because they involve states removing rights from individuals, and 
  2. To take into account the gender of treaty withdrawal, by looking the discriminatory intent behind withdrawals as well as discriminatory effects of human rights treaty withdrawal on women and LGBTQ communities. 

Çalı and Helfer’s analysis is timely, as potential withdrawals in the future loom large – not only from the Istanbul Convention, but also from the European Convention on Human Rights. Poland is currently debating a potential exit from the former, and the United Kingdom from the latter.

Read the full article on the European Journal of International Law blog.


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More about our expert

  • Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law | Director, Centre for Fundamental Rights