In response to the UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older people, NGOs highlighted critical gaps that need to be addressed in the UN system in relation to older people.

NGOs call on UN Secretary-General to set out plan to strengthen recognition and inclusion of older people within UN system

In response to the UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older people, NGOs highlighted critical gaps that need to be addressed in the UN system in relation to older people.


More than 100 organisations worldwide have joined with HelpAge International to call for the UN to ensure we “build back better” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inequalities, ageism and discrimination need to be addressed in order to ensure that older people’s rights are upheld across the UN system.
An open letter has been sent to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, in response to the UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older people released in early May. The organisations welcomed the Secretary General’s intervention but highlighted critical gaps that need to be addressed in the UN system in relation to older people.
The more than 100 NGOs have called on the UN to set a plan to strengthen the inclusion of older people within the UN system and engage in a dialogue with civil society actors.
Read the full text of the letter below and contact Download the open letter here.

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
We are writing as 103 civil society organisations from around the world to congratulate you for the UN Policy Brief on ‘The impact of COVID-19 on older persons’. This is an important and welcome intervention from the highest level of the UN at a time when the lives of older persons are at risk and their human rights are under attack. We welcome recognition of the multiple and significant risks older persons are facing at this time and the pandemic’s amplifying effects on pre-existing inequalities, ageism and discrimination, and challenges accessing health and social care and humanitarian assistance.
We are now requesting your support to ensure the action of the UN system to secure the way forward you identified in your brief. These actions recognise that older persons have long been subject to inadequate protection of their human rights and overlooked in global development and humanitarian efforts as well as in national policies and programmes. We believe there are opportunities in the recovery from this disaster to build back better and set the stage for a more inclusive and equitable society. We must all be concerned that the pandemic has exposed significant gaps in the UN system and also across sectors and disciplines, at a time when solidarity across countries and generations is needed the most. Only urgent action can fulfil the UN’s mission to leave no one behind.
As you will be aware, the UN has no system-wide policy or strategy on ageing and older persons, no lead UN agency and no formal mechanism for collaboration between UN bodies. In the COVID-19 reality, the gaps in coordination and leadership have led to disparities between the objective risks and needs of older persons, their visibility within agency response plans and their prioritisation within the overall response.
The UN has a clear mandate from member states to enhance leadership and coordination. Over the past two weeks, 146 member states have signed on to a statement in support of your policy brief and recognition of the imperative to act in solidarity and to strengthen global and national responses to address the rights of older persons. GA resolution 74/125 requests the UN to enhance collaboration with regional commissions, funds and programmes on ageing issues, to increase technical cooperation efforts, expand the role of the regional commissions on ageing issues, facilitate the coordination of national and international non-governmental organisations on ageing and enhance cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.
In light of this, we are inviting and encouraging you to share the plan to address the inclusion of older persons with actions to uphold their rights across the UN system. We hope these will include, but not be limited to, the following:
  • Immediate steps to mainstream older persons into COVID-19 responses
  • Measures to strengthen UN-wide policy and coordination at all levels, including through the adoption of a system-wide strategy on older persons and ageing
  • Commitment by the executive heads of the organisations of the UN system to analyse the gaps in the strategies and programmes of UN agencies, funds and programmes and present these at the earliest possible Chief Executive Board meeting to plan corrective action
  • Acceleration of efforts by the General Assembly’s working group to develop proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons
  • Enhanced capacity to provide technical support to governments to strengthen older persons’ rights
  • Strengthened and support the participation of older persons in UN-led intergovernmental fora
As civil society organisations, we stand alongside you and are ready to play our part through constructive dialogue on the solutions available, and by supporting strengthened participation of older people directly in the work of the UN at all levels. We look forward to enhancing our partnerships with the UN to advance our common agenda to leave no one behind.

This letter is supported by: 

1. Action for Basic Development Initiatives, Ethiopia
2. ACAMAGE, Cameroon
3. Action Solidaire International, Senegal
4. Active Ageing and Research Centre Bangladesh
5. Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN)
6. Age Action Ireland
7. Age International
8. AGE Platform Europe 
9. AGECO, Costa Rica
10. Ageing Nepal
11. Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia 
12. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Zambia
13. Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation 
14. Amis des Étrangers au Togo
15. Amnesty International
16. Anavie
17. Asociación Cultural Casa del Niño 
18. BAGSO, Germany
19. Center for Studies on Aging, Lebanon
20. Centre for Ageing and Rural Development, Kenya
21. Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA) Nigeria
22. Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc. (COSE)
23. Confluence of Rights, Nigeria
24. Consejo Distrital de Sabios, Colombia
25. Dave Omokaro Foundation, Nigeria 
26. DIS-MOI (Droits Humains Ocean Indien)
27. Dobroe Delo, Russia
28. Environmental Initiative for Sustainable Development Organization (EnvI), Sudan
29. Family Ark Mission, Nigeria
30. Focus of Disabled Persons Kasarani, Kenya
31. Forum des femmes pour la gouvernance des ressources naturelles en République Démocratique du Congo (FFGRN)
32. FUNDACIÓN SIDOM, Argentina
33. Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP)
34. Global Ageing Network
35. Grandmothers Consortium, Uganda
36. Gravis, India
37. Gray Panthers 
38. Health Nest Uganda
39. HelpAge Canada
40. HelpAge Deutschland 
41. HelpAge International España
42. HelpAge International 
43. HelpAge Korea
44. HelpAge RDC
45. HelpAge Sri Lanka
46. HelpAge USA
47. Human Life Development Initiative (HLDI)
48. Human Rights Watch
49. Humanitarian and Development Consortium (HDC) of South Sudan
50. Humanitarian Translation for Somalia (HTS)
51. IAGG
52. ILC Argentina
53. ILC Canada
54. Inclusion Africa
55. Initiative for Peace Communication Association South Sudan (IPCA) 
57. Instituto Qualivida, Brazil
58. International Federation on Ageing
59. Kasarani Brain Tank CBO  
60. Lutheran World Federation
61. Magu Poverty Focus on Older People Rehabilitation Centre (MAPERECE)
62. Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights
63. Mauritius Family Planning Welfare Association 
64. Nassa Brotherhood Programs, Tanzania
65. National Older Women’s Network Australia
66. National Senior Citizen Federation (NASCIF) Nepal
67. National Senior Citizens Organization of Liberia (NASCOL) 
68. NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva
69. NGO Committee on Ageing New York
70. NSINDAGIZA, Rwanda
71. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative, Nigeria
72. Pajoma, Kenya
73. PCCDS, Palestine
74. Peace Empowerment Foundation (Nigeria) 
75. Relief To Development Society (Redeso) Tanzania
76. Resource Integration Center (RIC) Bangladesh 
77. Rift Valley Children & Women Development Organization (RCWDO)
78. Saidia Wazee Karagwe (SAWAKA), Tanzania
79. SGA Africa
80. Sisters of Charity Federation 
81. Solidarité Echange Pour Le Developpement Integral, DRC
82. Somaliland Help Age Organisation 
83. Soroptimist International
84. South Sudan Older People’s Organization (SSOPO)
85. Sierra Leone Association for the Welfare of the Aged (SOWA)
86. Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN)
87. SYEAC-SaveElders Tanzania
88. Tanzania Association of Women Leaders in Agriculture and Environment (TAWLAE)
89. Tearfund
90. The Good Samaritan Social Services Trust, Tanzania
91. The Rhizome Center for Migrants
92. Tinker Institute on International Law and Organizations
93. Triumph Uganda Mental health Support and Recovery Program 
94. TSDA, Ethiopia
95. Turbota pro Litnih v Ukraini, Ukraine
96. Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA) 
97. Unidad de Organizaciones Afrocaucanas 
98. Univers de solidarité et de développement (UNI.SOL.D), Togo 
99. Valli, Finland
100. Voie éclairée des enfants démunis (ONG VED), Togo
101. VSO International
102. Westaid, Wajir, Kenya
103. Word of Life International

Additional signatories:

104. HelpAge Cambodia
105. Globale Seniorer, Denmark
106. Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation, Palestine
107. Elders Assistancy, DRC
108. Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI), Jordan
109. Free Forum for Rights, Nepal
110. Ageing Concern Foundation, Kenya
111. Public Union of Belarusian Pensioners “Nasha Pakalenne”, Belarus
112. Mission Armenia
113. Central Asia Gerontology Centre, Tajikistan
114. Karika Kenya
115. Asociación Central de Funcionarios Públicos y Docentes Jubilados del Paraguay
116. American Society on Aging
117. CommonAge

118. Federation Internationale des Associations des Personnes Agees (FIAPA)
119. Mauritius and Global Rainbow Foundation (Mauritius)
120. Support To Older People-Zambia
121. Ageing with a Smile Initiative of The Gambia
122. Center for Community Advancement and Family Empowerment(CECAFE), United Methodist University, Liberia