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Opinion of the STGM Board of Directors on the Istanbul Convention:

The decision in question does not have the power to create a change in the legal order.

STGM Association Board of Directors requires sharing their views on Presidential Decree published in Official Gazette on 20th March 2021 towards Turkey’s withdrawal from European Council Convention regarding Prevention of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence and Combat Against them, shortly known as İstanbul Convention.

First of all, we would like to state that been adopted in Istanbul, Turkey’s role in the preparation of the contract and being the first signatory of the regulation are conditions to be proud for civil society organizations offered remarkable contributions in the preparation of this text. It is not possible to neutralize a human rights regulation, which is even above the law in case of conflict, by ignoring the principle of parallelism in authority and procedure with an administrative decision. Besides, there are no such administrative decisions among the ratification and withdrawal ways of international conventions in our Constitution and related laws. Therefore, it should be determined that the decision in question does not have the power to create a change in the legal order and be annulled by the judicial body. Thus, a violation of the law will be eliminated, as well as a major mistake that is incompatible with the requirements of pluralist and participatory democracy in various aspects.

In our age, human rights are guaranteed with a double safety system, national and international law function together. No matter how perfect and advanced the national regulations in this field are, moving away from international law means the erosion of guarantees and guarantees and, in further dimensions, leaving the domestic legal system unprotected against violations.

On the other hand, as in the example of the Istanbul Convention, an important feature of the regimes established by international conventions is that civil society organizations and individuals have access to the mechanisms established beyond the state parties; strengthening them, giving existence to the mechanisms that reveal the invisible and the hidden. So much so that the studies conducted show that civil society organizations all over the world use these mechanisms actively. According to these studies, the most frequent applicants to the mechanisms are organizations related to the rights of women, children, and disabled people. In our country, especially in recent years, in addition to these areas, organizations based on sexual orientation and gender identity and partially youth organizations have been using these mechanisms more and more actively. This fact demonstrates the vital role that international law plays in terms of the social segments that are the target of discrimination and the civil society organizations established by them, even in countries where local legal rules have guarantees considered sufficient.

All public opinion polls show that segments belonging to different political views and lifestyles support the Convention with a qualified majority. The women's rights movement and the LGBTI + movement, which are concurrent with all the differences of society and turned into a mainstream force, have repeatedly reminded us that the Convention and its values cannot be compromised. Despite all this, the manifestation of a reverse decree demonstrates that a top-down logic that does not take the society into account, and this approach, which is the source of all oppression and freedom opposition we have experienced in the past, are maintaining. As long as this approach, which does not pay regard to the society and its diversity, does not change, the rights and freedoms of any social segment cannot be guaranteed.

The Istanbul Convention is a pioneering regulation that adopts pluralism as a value, differentiates itself from its counterparts in this respect, and can set an example to the whole world. A pluralist democracy can be built not only by ensuring diversity and participation in decision-making mechanisms but also by considering the diversity of society in all kinds of legal regulations produced. The Convention's addressing violence against women based on gender, which it defines as "socially established roles, behaviors, activities, and characteristics that any society considers appropriate for women and men", instead of biological sex, imposing an obligation for state parties to implement the Convention and adding a gender perspective on evaluating the effects of the provisions of the Convention, are conceptual frameworks that open up dimensions and contribute to international law. This realistic approach to understanding the nature of the communal by going beyond the biological leads us to the conclusion that rights and freedoms can only be protected as long as the life and diversity of society are comprehended in social relations. The widespread use of the concept of gender since the preparation stage of the Convention, the power that individuals and civil society organizations have gained from gender becoming a legal concept are irreversible gains.

Being aware of the value of these achievements, STGM sees being alongside the Convention and civil society organizations strengthened with its support as a part of its future mission. Therefore, we would like to share with the public that we believe that the Presidential decision in question should be annulled by a judicial decision.


Civil Society Development Center Association Board of Directors

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