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

13 Latin American countries have openly and directly supported a motion to work towards a regional convention on the rights of older people.


 _927_ 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
  • Appoint a special rapporteur on older people’s

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.

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.

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.”