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Regional convention to protect older people's rights in Latin America

19 Dec 2012

Older activists demand their rights in Bolivia. (c) HelpAge InternationalSouth America is ageing rapidly, a fact that the Permanent Council of the Organization of the American States (OAS) can no longer ignore. For this reason and many others, they have stressed the need for greater regional cooperation on ageing issues. 

The aim of this cooperation is to find effective and specific mechanisms to ensure the quality of life, welfare, health and other rights for older people.

As a result, a resolution on "protecting the human rights of older people" was signed. A working group was also created to report on older people's situation and whether existing universal human rights instruments for older people are effective.

Older people face many obstacles

The report was presented at the end of last year and revealed that older people face many obstacles to fully exercising their rights. The report stressed that countries should adopt measures to ensure that older people can better enjoy their rights.

The report also emphasised that governments must ensure older people - as all other citizens - enjoy all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This should be done by adopting measures that guarantee the right to equal opportunities and non-discrimination for older people.

Based on this report, the working group prepared the draft Inter-American Convention on the Rights of Older People. The document is currently being discussed by different governments and has received input from older people themselves.

To date, the first nine articles have already been agreed. The members are currently analysing the rest of the 44 articles that make up the document. 

Latin America committed to older people's rights

The draft Inter-American Convention is a huge step forward for the protection of older people's rights. It is particularly significant as it is a legally-binding instrument and will unify the different approaches taken by each country on the issue.

Older people face particular challenges in enjoying their rights, meaning specific legal instruments are necessary. It is very important that such measures come into effect as soon as possible, to address the rapid demographic change across South America.

Age Demands Action shows civil society support for a regional convention

On 1 October this year, around 30 organisations from 11 countries in the region joined HelpAge network's global campaign Age Demands Action (ADA). As in previous years, ADA in the region promoted the need for a convention on older people's rights.

Thousands of people, including former Presidents and mayors, joined the campaign by signing and collecting petitions in support of the convention.

With support from civil society and governments, the Inter-American Convention to protect older people's rights will be a huge and successful step forward for Latin America and older people and may pave the way for a universal convention.

Find out more about our work on rights.

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Author profile

Maria Isabel Rivera
Country: Bolivia
Job title: Oficial Regional de Comunicación

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.