By Sarah Marzouk
In the run up to Human Rights Day on 10 December, HelpAge Deutschland and HelpAge International are hosting a conference on Strengthening the rights of older people worldwide.
It takes place from 5-7 December in Osnabrück, Germany and aims to build political support for legally binding international human rights standards. The event is held in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Age UK and Age Platform Europe, among others. (c) COSE/ HelpAge International
Human rights issues addressed
Three keys issues will be addressed at the event:
- The extent and adequacy of existing human rights mechanisms in protecting older people's rights globally.
- Specific areas of concern in relation to older people's rights. This includes protection from violence and other forms of elder abuse, discrimination on the basis of age, autonomy and independence, and equitable access to health services.
- The extent to which an international convention and special rapporteur on the rights of older people would provide a positive response to these challenges for older people globally.
Building European support for older people's rights
Bridget Sleap, HelpAge's Senior Rights Policy Adviser said of the conference: "2012 has been a critical year for the rights of older people. It is the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and the year the Organization of American States has drafted a regional, Inter-American convention on the rights of older people.
"Through this conference we want to continue this momentum and foster greater support among European opinion formers and decision-makers for new international instruments to protect the rights of older people. These include an international convention and special rapporteur on the rights of older people."
The conference speakers and participants are from a wide range of stakeholder groups, such as the UN, EU representatives and National Human Rights Institutions.
Voices from civil society and older people's groups
There will also be spokespeople from civil society and older people's groups from around the world, bringing evidence of discrimination and violations of rights.
These include Kwa Wazee from Tanzania and HelpAge's Affiliates in South Africa, the Muthande Society for the Aged (MUSA), and the Netherlands, WorldGranny. Other organisations such as the Sue Ryder Foundation (Malawi) and the Global Initiative on Psychiatry (Lithuania) will also be present.
Ms Sleap concluded: "For there not to be more knowledge on and political will to support older people's human rights in Europe is unacceptable.
"We need to continue advocating for – and increasing the public awareness of − the need for an international convention and a special rapporteur at this conference and beyond."
For updates from the conference, follow HelpAge on Twitter @helpage.