OPEN LETTER: A Sincere Request to Reinstatement of the “Istanbul Convention”
Date: 25 April 2021
To: H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of
Republic of Turkey
Dear H.E. Mr. President:
References: Istanbul Convention (11 May 2011; Council of Europe Convention CECT Treaty No. 210, put into force on 1 August 2014); UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal #5; Gender Equality (September 2015) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed by Turkey in 1949); and Turkey as the founding member of the United Nations, UN Charter (1945).
On behalf of The Light Millennium (LM), Charitable Global Human Advancement Organization (2001, New York), we are proud of being a leading –although with a small scale– volunteer based an “active” and with “good standing” associated Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the United Nations Department of Global Communications (UNDGC) since 2005 (formerly UN Department of Public Information).
The Organization’ Purposes, Article #13 states the following: “To promote and support the United Nations’ Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly regarding “human development” and “environmental protection-sustainability.” (Reference 7)
With this background, on behalf of the LM Board along with the undersigned Turkish-American associations in the United States, we are reaching out you to express our concerns on the decision of withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention.
We have been proud of our country because :
Turkey was one of the founders of the United Nations on October 24, 1945; and we have celebrated its 75th Anniversary at the #UN75 Webinar on October 18, 2020;
Turkey is one of the leading countries who provide education as a universal right; and women have been recognized their civil rights since the first period of the Republic;
Turkey has been a role model for the Middle Eastern countries and the least developed countries in human rights since its formation in 1923;
Turkey is one of the three leading countries who celebrate the International Day of Girl Child, and the related resolution; and thus October 11 is declared Day of Girl Child, in particular, for girls in rural areas, with the purpose of providing them basic rights and education.
Turkey is the host country for the UN-Women Europe and Asia Regional Office along with other 15 officially represented UN Special Agencies in Turkey as follows: UN Information Office (UNIC), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Food and Agriculture (FAO), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Office of Migration (IOM), UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN Volunteers, UN Office for the Coordination Human Affairs (UNOCHA), UN World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, Turkey is the host country of the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries. Also, along with the Istanbul Convention, Turkey has been host to numerous UN Conferences such as HABITAT, The Fourth UN the Least Developing Countries, World Humanitarian Day, Alliance of Civilizations and many others.
As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ Article#1 states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Turkey was one of the first 40 countries who signed it in 1949; and in the same vein, the “Istanbul Convention” mainly aims to protect and/or provide it all children and women at large.
Dear Mr. President, for this very reason, we are sorry to express that the withdrawal from the “Istanbul Convention” is against Turkey’s signed related Resolutions, Convention, and Women Rights through the United Nations System.
Furthermore, as Turkish-Americans living in the United States, we feel that there is not one single argument that we can understand and defend about a sudden withdrawal. This decision has been made without taking into consideration not only women but also children at large; not only in Turkey but in the world. It is a very negative and backward step for girls’, children’s, and women’s rights both in Turkey and in the world.
Additionally, this decision has put us, the undersigned U.S. based Turkish-American NGOs who are the followers and supporters of the principles and vision of the Republic of Turkey, in a very difficult situation in the eyes of our international NGO colleagues and friends, and Ambassadors at the United Nations and beyond.
Mr. President, as you are well aware, the “Istanbul Convention” is not a domestic concern, but a universal one in the same line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “right to live”. Thus, we consider that no power on earth should take away the “right to live” of children, both girls and boys, and women at large.
Based on the aforementioned points, we are extremely concerned about the issued “Resolution” for the withdrawal from the “Istanbul Convention”, which appeared in the “Resmi Gazete” (T.C. Official Newspaper – Date: 20/03/2021; issue# 31429, President’s Executive Order – Decree no# 3718).
As a universal agreement and convention, the “Istanbul Convention” is the promise of a country to protect women and children from domestic violence. Turkey’s promise and commitment to protecting children (boys and girls) and women show that Turkey is a role model in the Middle East and a leader in assuring human rights.
Furthermore, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s spokesperson on behalf of H.E. Ms. Michelle Bachelet (former President of Chile) made the following statement: “The High Commissioner has expressed her dismay at the withdrawal, which represents a significant step backward in Turkey’s efforts to advance women’s rights, especially given that gender inequality and gender-based violence against women remain a serious concern in Turkish society. Turkey played an active role in negotiating the Convention, which was adopted in Istanbul, and was the first state to ratify it in March 2012, which makes its decision to abandon it now all the more shocking.”
Based on her above statement, on behalf of Turkish girls and women in Turkey and worldwide, we’d like to join Ms. Bachelet in the same kind request towards “reversing the withdrawal, conduct consultations with civil society and women’s groups, and make tangible efforts to promote and protect the safety and rights of all women and girls in Turkey.”
In conclusion, we are hopeful that Turkey will keep this long-term commitment and leadership through the United Nations system, and we kindly request Your Excellency to reconsider and change your decision for the betterment of women and human rights, helping regain respect and admiration on the global arena.
Human rights and lives of women and children are guaranteed under the name of the most beautiful city in the world: Istanbul. We are hopeful that Turkey will hold onto its position protecting women and children in the eyes of Turkey and the world.
This will be most valuable for the Turkish-American Communities in the United States along with the UN System in regaining respect and defending our country.
We will most appreciate the reinstatement of the “Istanbul Convention” at the possible earliest time.
Bircan Ünver, Founder-President (on behalf of the Board) & Head Representative of
The Light Millennium, Charitable Global Human Advancement Organization to the
United Nations Department of Global Communications (since 2005)
EIN#11-363-3087 | Status#501c3 (2001, New York)
Endorsed by the following individuals and organization:
Vildan Gorener (Chicago)
Fatma Aytaç, Chairperson, Red Pepper Association
Gülay Ozen Schorr, Member, Red Pepper Association
(Please kindly email to Contact(at)lightmillennium.org, if you your name and/or organization likes to endorse this Open Letter as well.)
- Istanbul Convention (11 May 2011) – Istanbul Convention Action against violence against women and domestic violence – https://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention/turkey ;
- Council of Europe Treaty Series – No. 210 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence Istanbul, 11.V.2011: https://rm.coe.int/168008482e
- UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal #5; Gender Equality (September 2015) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Turkey signed it in 1949); and as the founding member of the United Nations, UN Charter (1945).
- Resmi Gazete no: 31429, 03/20/2021 decision no:3718
- Sustainable Development Goal# 5: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal5
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights: https://www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf
- 2019 Mission / Purposes (Amended & Broadened) of The Light Millennium, Inc. – A Charitable Global Human Advancement Organization: https://www.lmglobal.org/organization/lm_mission/
- Statement by UN Women on Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2021/3/statement-un-women-turkey-withdrawal-from-the-istanbul-convention
- Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
- Turkey: Withdrawal from Istanbul Convention is a pushback against women’s rights, say human rights experts
- European Parliament resolution of 28 November 2019 on the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention and other measures to combat gender-based violence (2019/2855(RSP))
- UN Women Europe and Central Asia: https://eca.unwomen.org/en/where-we-are/turkey/contact
- United Nations in Turkey: https://turkey.un.org/en/about/our-t
- Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries: https://www.un.org/technologybank/
Hashtags: #IstanbulConvention #HumanRights #WomenRights #ChildrenRights #SDG5 #GlobalGoals #UniversalDeclarationofHumanRights
Jointly e-published with the www.lmglobal.org