By Beth Howgate
Today, the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Ms Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, will start her first official country visit to Slovenia to assess the human rights situation of older people in the country. (c) ZDUS
The Independent Expert noted that the visit is an opportunity to identify best practices and gaps in the implementation of existing laws related to the protection of the rights of older people.
"Older people in Slovenia represent a significant and rapidly growing segment of society," Ms Kornfeld-Matte stated.
"This visit will allow me to discuss the policies adopted by the Slovenian authorities to ensure the active and effective participation of older people in the fullest spectrum of social life."
According to the 2014 Global AgeWatch Index, Slovenia's older population is projected to rise from 24.4% today to 37.1% in 2050, one of the largest percentages of older people among countries in Eastern Europe.
First country visit
The visit is particularly significant as it will be Ms Kornfeld-Matte's first country visit to look at the welfare and rights of older people.
"I am particularly interested to learn more about the new strategy Solidarity, Good Intergenerational Relations and Quality Active Aging, which is currently being devised," she added.
The Government of Slovenia has shown leadership in the area of older people's rights by being the first country to invite the Independent Expert.
The Government sponsored the 2013 resolution in the Human Rights Council that created the position of Independent Expert and spoke at the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing in 2014 about the merit in exploring the possibility of a new convention on the rights of older people.
Meeting with HelpAge Affiliate
HelpAge network members and partners, Slovene Philanthropy and the Slovene Federation of Pensioners (ZDUS), along with other members of civil society, will also be meeting with the Independent Expert.
Tereza Novak, Executive Director of Slovene Philanthropy, a HelpAge Affiliate, said:
"Older people in Slovenia receive regular pensions but it's often not enough. With numbers of older people rising dramatically in the coming years, we need to urgently address the issue of poverty in old age.
"We will be discussing this with Ms Kornfeld-Matte when we meet this week."
Discussions on human rights
Ms Kornfeld-Matte, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government, will visit Ljubljana, Gorenjska and Primorska regions, among others, to discuss the human rights of older people with government representatives, non-governmental organisations and others working on older people's issues.
At the end of her visit on Friday 21 November, the Independent Expert will share her preliminary findings with the media at a press conference in Ljubljana.
Her recommendations will be also presented to the Human Rights Council in her next report in 2015.