Ageism, discrimination and denial of rights in older age continue to be tolerated across the world...
(c) Ina Voelcker/HelpAge International
We need a convention on the rights of older people
Existing human rights mechanisms fail to adequately protect and promote the rights of older people. We believe that a single instrument, a new international convention on the rights of older people, is the most effective way to make sure that all people enjoy their human rights in older age, and on an equal basis with others.
We need a convention to:
- Establish legal standards that challenge and replace stigmatising and dehumanising ageist attitudes and behaviour
- Clarify how human rights apply in older age
- Ensure states understand their human rights obligations to us in our older age
- Better understand and assert our rights in our older age
- Improve accountability of states for their human rights obligations towards us in older age
- Provide a framework for policy and decision making.
A convention must:
- Provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all our human rights in older age
- Prohibit discrimination on the basis of older age in every aspect of our lives
- Articulate how each human right specifically applies to us in older age
- Provide for a strong implementation, monitoring and accountability system.
The UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing
The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) was established by the UN General Assembly in 2010. The purpose of the group is to strengthen the protection of the rights of older people by reviewing how existing instruments address older people's rights, identify gaps in protection, and explore the feasibility of new human rights instruments.
HelpAge and other civil society organisations actively engage with this process. Age Demands Action activists and our partner organisations call on their governments to support a convention and participate constructively in the process. We support older women and men to take part in the OEWG and we submit evidence from our programmes around the world.
To date, the OEWG has clearly established that there are flaws in the international human rights framework with regard to older people's rights. Our latest action has been to lobby member states to support a UN resolution that summarises these flaws and encourages member states to continue to make proposals on what the content of a new convention into the rights of older people should be.
Progress towards a convention
A resolution on the rights of older people was adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly at the end of November and is due to be adopted by the whole UN General Assembly on 17th December. The resolution reaffirms the mandate of the OEWG, and summarises the areas in which it has reached a consensus. As such it is an important step towards a convention.
The resolution maintains the OEWG process into 2016, and we will keep you updated on the next session.
How you can support older people
- Get involved with our global Age Demands Action campaign
- Join the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People to strengthen the rights and voice of older people.