Photo: Antonio Olmos/HelpAge International
Thirteen Latin American countries have openly and directly
supported a motion to work towards a regional convention on the rights of older
Bolivia, Brazil (on behalf of MERCOSUR), Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, St. Kitts and Vincent (on behalf of CARICOM), Uruguay and Venezuela declared their support at a special session of the permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC last week.
Better protection needed
The rights of older people and how best to protect them was
discussed by a good number of country delegations from across the Americas.
Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic were non committal, but they stressed the importance of older people in their own countries and the measures they are taking to protect their rights. Only Canada and the USA openly rejected the motion.
Among those countries supporting the motion, there was a general consensus that existing human rights instruments were insufficient and too dispersed to adequately protect older people's rights. It was agreed that this age group requires a specific, legally binding instrument at regional and global level.
Civil society's role
HelpAge International was invited to share a panel with the
InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights, PAHO, UNFPA, and UNECLAC, to present
the situation of older people's rights in the region. The panel congratulated
HelpAge on bringing the human face of the problem to the table.
We presented the paper "Strengthening the rights of older people: Towards a convention", which was developed jointly with eight other agencies. The paper presents civil society's potential role in the process of agreeing a convention for the rights of older people.
Taking the convention forward
The 13 supporting delegations, led by Argentina and Brazil, called for the following steps to take the convention forward:
- Set up an OAS working group on the convention.
- Carry out a situation analysis of older people's rights fulfillment in Latin America.
- Develop a draft regional convention on older people.
- Appoint a special rapporteur on older people's rights.
President of the Permanent Council, proposed the
issue be taken to the Commission on Legal and Political Affairs of the OAS to
Other civil society organisations in attendance included Global Action on Ageing, the American University Academy of Human Rights, ODEMA and the Regional Human Rights Platform.
An important step on a long road
Fiona Clark, HelpAge's Regional Director of Programmes for Latin America, said: "It was a pleasant surprise to see how many countries already support the idea of a convention in the region and how much consensus has been built, especially in the MERCOSUR and CARICOM blocks.
"This meeting marks an important step in the process towards a convention and on the long road to ensuring older people's rights are respected, promoted and protected everywhere."