Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok for high-level conference ‘The Tenth Anniversary after the Signature of the Istanbul Convention. State of Play'

Ten years ago, after long and demanding yet also thorough deliberations, we signed a pivotal treaty. The gold standard for tackling violence against women, girls and LGBTI people.

The Istanbul Convention.

And ten years on, we can conclude that this gold standard has more than proved its value, significantly protecting and enhancing the lives of women, children and families. Indeed, the lives of entire communities.

Yet while the progress we’ve made is substantial, now is not the time to celebrate.

Not when every hour six women are murdered by men, simply because they are women. Not when we are facing a pandemic within a pandemic, with 243 million women and girls enduring domestic violence over the past 12 months. A number that is likely to rise.

And not when countries are deciding to move backwards instead of forwards.

A time when Turkey has just left the Convention, and Poland has announced its desire to do so.

We cannot allow women, girls and LGBTI people to be abandoned by the law. We must step up our efforts to protect them. And we must curb the worrying trend of pushback.

So I urgently call on those in doubt to ratify the Istanbul Convention, including the six EU member states who still need to ratify. And including the EU itself.

Let’s not allow division to get in the way of a goal that is universal: a world free of violence.

For everyone.