Latin American states support call for a convention on the rights of older people


Angel, 72, from Peru A step has been made towards a regional convention on older people's rights. 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 people.

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.

The President of the Permanent Council, proposed the issue be taken to the Commission on Legal and Political Affairs of the OAS to take forward.

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."

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  • Fujiko Moriguchi (20 December 2010)

    I am in the international section of Japan Pentioners' Union. I fully support your action towards the conention on the rights of older persons. And I need every information on the issue. I read your paper "Strengthening..."and interpreted it into Japanese for our union members. Thank you.

  • Gustavo Trigo Arana (04 November 2010)

    Great news for all human rights!!
    My recognition to all Older People in the region that work hard side by side a group of brilliant professionals making visible these matters and taking actions in order to fulfill a dignify life for all generations.
    God bless you all

  • Shridhar Lamichhane (03 November 2010)

    Wonderful steps. I would like to congratulate the Older people of OAS Countries. I wish every success of OAS in the days to come.

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