MTA Law Working Papers

A Jogtudományi Intézet műhelytanulmányai

Lídia Balogh: The Ratification Status of the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention Among EU Member States

By the beginning of 2020, the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention has been signed by all EU member states, but still has not been ratified by seven of them. Amongst these non-ratifying states is (was) the UK; all the others are former state socialist countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia. The present analysis is focused around the question: How the delay, or the alienation from the Convention, is justified in these cases? According to the presumption of the analysis, the dominant voice against the ratification is the conservative anti-gender discourse that is political in its nature, is not specific to Central-Eastern Europe, and does not have to do much with the Convention itself. Meanwhile, two other sets of concerns may be identified regarding the Convention: criticism has been raised from feminist and libertarian points of view. Critical feminist voices were never aimed at discouraging states from ratification, and libertarian voices were never strong enough in Europe to influence the related debates significantly. Taking all things into consideration, the rejection of the Istanbul Convention may be considered as collateral damage (as termed by Zacharenko) in the “war on gender” – that is being fought in a transnational sphere, interestingly, not only about gender issues.