Turkey’s right-wing opposition İYİ (Good) Party has filed a submission with the Council of State requesting the cancellation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s executive decree withdrawing Turkey from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
According to Turkish media reports, the İYİ Party asked the Council of State to cancel the decree in accordance with Articles 6, 87, 90 and 104 of the Turkish Constitutions.
President Erdoğan issued an executive decree on March 20 annulling Turkey’s ratification of the convention, the latest victory for conservatives in Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their allies, who argued the CoE accord damaged family unity. Turkey said domestic laws would protect women’s rights.
According to Article 90(1), the ratification of international treaties shall be subject to the Turkish parliament’s adoption by a law approving the ratification. After the parliament has approved the ratification of the treaty, the president shall approve, publish or “ratify and promulgate” it in line with Article 104.
In his first public comments about Turkey’s withdrawal, President Erdoğan said the move was completely legal and that Turkey is free to make its own decisions.
“The step taken by the presidency [on the Istanbul Convention] is completely legal, and we will stay on this path. We made a decision. We can adopt [the treaty] and we can withdraw from it whenever we want,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the convention was met with criticism from several international leaders.
US President Joe Biden said Turkey’s withdrawal from the accord was “deeply disappointing” and a step backward in efforts to end violence against women globally.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic were among European leaders who harshly criticized the withdrawal.
United Nations agencies also called on Turkey to reconsider its decision.
The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, widely known as Istanbul Convention, was signed by 45 countries and the European Union in 2011 and requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
Turkey was the first member state to ratify the CoE convention, which was opened for signature in Istanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago.