UN Member States move one step closer to a convention


By Sarah Marzouk

Nziku from Tanzania faced discrimination for being an older woman. Nziku from Tanzania faced discrimination for being an older woman. (c) Jeff Williams/HelpAge International UN Member States voted to take steps to strengthen the protection of older people's rights in a landmark vote in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday 27 November.

Member States adopted a resolution that tasks the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) with considering what should go into a new international legal instrument, such as a convention on older people's rights.

Major victory for older people facing discrimination

The OEWG was established by the General Assembly in 2010 and has as its main purpose to strengthen the protection of older people's human rights by reviewing how existing human rights instruments address older people's rights.

"This is a major victory for older women and men facing discrimination in old age in every part of the world," said Bridget Sleap, HelpAge's Senior Rights Policy Adviser.

"There is still much more work for us to do to convince those Member States who oppose a new convention, but it is clear that political support is growing and can no longer be ignored."

Taking a convention on older people's rights forward

The resolution (A/C.3/67/L.9/Rev.1 with oral amendments) was put forward by El Salvador and co-sponsored by 26 Member States from across Latin America, Africa and Asia. It establishes four key developments:

  • The fourth session of the OEWG will be held in 2013.
  • At that fourth session, the OEWG will consider proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older people.
  • It requests the OEWG to present the General Assembly with a proposal as soon as possible which contains the main elements to go in such an international legal instrument.
  • It requests the UN Secretary General to submit a compilation of existing international legal instruments that directly or indirectly address the situation of older people.

"There is still a long way to go but these developments are incredibly important as they allow the OEWG to keep moving forward on the issue of a convention," said Bridget Sleap.

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  • Kathrine Fenton-May (29 November 2012)

    Personally my wish is that everyone 50 years and older should make an effort to become involved to ensure the success of this Convention, sooner than later.

  • edilia camargo (29 November 2012)

    Wonder if there would be any mechanism of cooperation between this OEWG and the second one working in Washington with apparently the same proposals.. And what is foreseen in both for the real participation of older peoples themselves as civil society organized group??

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