Gender based violence and human rights: international perspectives

Friday 8 December 2017
Amsterdam, UvA

To which extent does international law affect domestic implementation in the domain of policy and legal measures regarding gender based violence? Which future directions should be prioritized? In this symposium (inter)national experts will critically reflect on developments in international regulation of gender based violence.

Violence against women

Violence against women is one of the most common violations of women’s human rights. According to the World Health Organization at least one in three women worldwide experience one or more serious physical and/or sexual violent incidents during their lifetime, often from an intimate partner or ex-partner. Gender inequality and social norms legitimating violence against women are underlying forces that feed into gender based violence. At the same time social protests are growing, with campaigns such as #NotOkay, #MeToo and #IHave.

Violation of human rights

In the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, violence against women has been recognized under international human rights law as a violation of human rights. According to the convention, it is the duty of governments to protect women as citizens against this violence and, above all, to prevent it. A historic milestone. In 2018 The Netherlands will have to report to what extent it is meeting those obligations. It is timely to reflect on the meaning of the convention.

Programme and speakers

The morning programme addresses global developments. In the afternoon European developments will be the focus. After the symposium there will be a network reception.

  • 9.15-9.35: Coffee – walk-in
  • 9.45-10.00: Welcome and opening

President of the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam - Geert ten Dam
Human rights ambassador of the Netherlands - mr. Kees van Baar

  • 10.05-10.30: Renée Römkens -  Professor Gender Based Violence, University of Amsterdam. Opening lecture "The powers of international law and un/intended consequences"

PART I Global perspectives – local impact. Developments in international human rights law on gender based violence – key note lectures

  • 10.30-10.55: Rosa Freedman - Professor of Law, Conflict and Global development, University of Reading (United Kingdom): "The UN, Human Rights, Women and Gender-Based Violence: From the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to the Present Day"
  • 10.55-11.00: Discussant - Kees Flinterman, em. Professor in Human Rights Law, Maastricht University/Utrecht University; former member of CEDAW
  • 11.00-11.25: Rashida Manjoo - Professor International Human Rights Law, University of Cape Town; former UN Special rapporteur on Violence against women: "Violence against women: the quest for political accountability through normativity and legality"
  • 11.25-11.30: Discussant - Aleid van den Brink, MA – Director Blijf Groep
  • 11.30-12.00: COFFEE break
  • 12.00-12.25: Elizabeth Odio Benito, former Minister of Justice Costa Rica and former judge of the International Criminal Court: "My Experience in Three International Tribunals"
  • 12.25-12.30: Discussant - Conny Roggeband, assistant professor political science, University of Amsterdam.
  • 12.30-13:00: Panel discussion with key-note speakers and discussants
  • 13.00-14.00: LUNCH

PART II European perspectives on national impact of human rights law on gender based violence

  • 14.00-14.20: Rosa Logar (Austria) Member of the GREVIO monitoring committee of the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention. "Coming into force: the Istanbul Convention as a new HR-instrument to prevent violence against women and domestic violence"
  • 14.20-14.30: Q&A
  • 14.30-14.50: Fleur van Leeuwen (Netherlands & Istanbul) Senior affiliated researcher/Atria: "Gender trouble: domestic violence at the European Court of Human Rights"
  • 14.50-15.00: Q&A
  • 15.00-15.20: Ineke Boerefijn (Netherlands) coordinating policy advisor, Netherlands Institute for Human Rights: "Invoking the Istanbul Convention before Dutch courts"
  • 15.20 - 15:30: Q&A
  • 15:30 – 16.00: TEA/COFFEE

PART III  Plenary discussion

  • 16.00-16.45: Panel discussion
  • 16.45-17.00: Wrap up (moderator)
  • 17.00-18:30: Network reception


University of Amsterdam, Roeterseilandcomplex, CREA Muziekzaal, Nieuwe Achtergracht 170, Amsterdam.


The symposium is organized by Atria in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, and with the generous support of the City of Amsterdam.


The symposium fee of €75 includes lunch and network reception. Special fee for students and PhD's: €25.

For questions, send an e-mail to