Calling for a convention on older people's rights at the UN
As we speak, the third session of the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) is underway in New York. Discussions happening this week include issues such as gaps in the protection of older people's rights and how to address them. This is a very critical time for the OEWG, as decisions are being made about whether the Working Group will even continue to exist.
It is also a big chance for older people to show that they are an increasingly powerful group. They will voice their support for specific protection of their rights, for example in the form of a UN convention on older people’s rights.
As part of our Age Demands Action for Rights campaign that took place on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June, campaigners in 21 countries harnessed support and collected signatures for the ADA petition, which calls for a convention on older people’s rights. Over 25,000 signatures were collected, taking the overall total to well above 55,000!
In addition, firm commitments were made by the governments of Nepal, Ghana, Indonesia (representing ASEAN states, except for Singapore) and Tanzania that they would send representatives to the OEWG.
Call for a convention
This week, we have a great opportunity to push for a UN convention on older people’s rights. Through our petition we can show high level officials at the UN that tens of thousands of people in 118 countries are demanding better rights for older people.
To show how powerful older people’s voices can be, on Tuesday 21 August, an ADA activist from Kyrgyzstan, Kulumkan Shabdanbekova, presented 56,794 ADA petition signatures to Ivan Šimonović, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York.
Ms Shabdanbekova is taking part in the OEWG to represent older people in the 118 countries who signed the petition. She is also asking OEWG participants to listen to older people and is pushing for support for a UN convention on older people’s rights.
Global and national petition handovers
These petition handovers have already started in other countries around the world that showed support for ADA for Rights. Indeed, campaigners in Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Ghana have handed over their petition signatures to high level officials in their respective countries.
In Ghana, campaigners have presented the petition to the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, the Hon. Antwi-Boasiako Sekyere who will be leading Ghana's delegation to the OEWG. In response, the Deputy Minister said the government is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of older people.
In Nepal, although officials are not able to attend the meeting, Mr Surya Shrestha, the under Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Mr Shiv Raj Chaulagain, the under Secretary for the National Planning Commission received the ADA petition. Handing over the petition was ADA activist Bishnu Bhakt Phuyal who has been a well-known actor since the 1960s.
And in Indonesia, the petition was handed to Dr Makmur, the focal point of the ASEAN countries, by Grandma Titi, 82. Dr Makmur also signed the ADA petition. In response, Dr. Makmur stated that a UN convention on older people’s right is urgent, as the world's population is ageing rapidly and numbers of older people are increasing.
This collective, global action shows leaders that older people are united by one voice and one demand: Better protection for their human rights.
Sign the ADA peititon calling for a UN convention on older people's rights
Read more about HelpAge at the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing