The member States of the Council of Europe and the other signatories hereto,

Recalling the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5, 1950) and its Protocols, the European Social Charter (ETS No. 35, 1961, revised in 1996, ETS No. 163), the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS No. 197, 2005) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201, 2007);

Recalling the following recommendations of the Committee of Ministers to member States of the Council of Europe: Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence, Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)17 on gender equality standards and mechanisms, Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)10 on the role of women and men in conflict prevention and resolution and in peace building, and other relevant recommendations;

Taking account of the growing body of case law of the European Court of Human Rights which sets important standards in the field of violence against women;

Having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”, 1979) and its Optional Protocol (1999) as well as General Recommendation No. 19 of the CEDAW Committee on violence against women, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its Optional Protocols (2000) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006);

Having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002);

Recalling the basic principles of international humanitarian law, and especially the Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949) and the Additional Protocols I and II (1977) thereto; Condemning all forms of violence against women and domestic violence;

Recognising that the realisation of de jure and de facto equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women;

Recognising that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women;

Recognising the structural nature of violence against women as gender-based violence, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men;

Recognising, with grave concern, that women and girls are often exposed to serious forms of violence such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, forced marriage, crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour” and genital mutilation, which constitute a serious violation of the human rights of women and girls and a major obstacle to the achievement of equality between women and men;

Recognising the ongoing human rights violations during armed conflicts that affect the civilian population, especially women in the form of widespread or systematic rape and sexual violence and the potential for increased gender-based violence both during and after conflicts;

Recognising that women and girls are exposed to a higher risk of gender-based violence than men;

Recognising that domestic violence affects women disproportionately, and that men may also be victims of domestic violence;

Recognising that children are victims of domestic violence, including as witnesses of violence in the family;

Aspiring to create a Europe free from violence against women and domestic violence,

Have agreed as follows: