Istanbul Convention in the Czech Republic: Debate Dynamics, Key Actors, and Communication Recommendations

Natália Tkáčová / 18 Apr 2024

This analysis seeks to identify key stakeholders involved in the public debate around the Istanbul Convention and its framing. The analytical report provides practical communication recommendations with the aim of fostering a more balanced public debate about the Istanbul Convention. The outputs are based on semi-structured expert interviews with the government's Human Rights Commissioner, a representative of the media, the non-governmental sector and a legal expert. The analysis is available in both English and Czech. 

The Czech Republic signed the Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, in May 2016, triggering a divided public sentiment regarding its ratification, necessity and implications. Despite the nation's progressive standing in the CEE region, significant polarization exists. It is primarily driven by critics, including conservative factions (including one of the ruling parties), casting doubt on the Convention's intentions and impact, labeling it as an ideological and unnecessary document. Advocates, on the other hand, view it as a crucial step in combating violence and supporting victims. The Czech Republic, therefore, remains one of the last countries that has not ratified the Istanbul Convention.

The analysis shows that the debate on the Istanbul Convention is (not only) politically polarized and driven by various interests and ideologies. While some politicians and organizations see the Convention as a tool to protect victims of violence and prevent gender-based violence, others have concerns about its impact on "traditional values" and the legal system. The media are crucial in reporting on this controversial issue and debunking disinformation. Non-governmental organizations strive to inform about the purpose of the Convention and dispel myths, while religious institutions oppose ratification due to concerns about preserving "traditional values." Generally, however, the Convention poses a problem mainly for those who fear changes in society, and rather than being about the Convention itself, it is about the so-called cultural war between the "liberal West" and the "traditional values".


This project is supported by the Open Information Partnership