While many United Nations (UN) instruments declare rights for all human beings and thus also for older people, the UN have long been working specifically on ageing issues: in 1991 the UN General Assembly adopted the Principles for Older Persons; in 2002 the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), a comprehensive action plan for building a society for all ages was agreed and a focal point to facilitate its implementation was later created; in 2010 a working group was established to consider the human rights of older persons and existing gaps in their protection. As described in part I, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which is binding for the EU, is also a reference document for older people
The Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) is mandated to consider the international framework of the human rights of older persons and to identify possible gaps and how to best address these, including considering the feasibility of further UN instruments and measures. The OEWG is exploring whether there is a need for action at the UN level and different options are considered: a new binding instrument; a Special Rapporteur (independent experts that have a mandate to investigate, monitor and recommend solutions to specific human rights problems); further consideration to the results of the review and appraisal of the Madrid Action Plan on Ageing and a stronger focus/more efficient implementation of existing UN mechanisms. AGE has been taking part in sessions of the OEWG since 2012 and in a UN expert group meeting in 2012 bringing the views of European senior citizens and counterbalancing the perspective of EU decision-makers in this debate. Through AGE’s participation at the UN level the challenges that older Europeans are facing are taken into account in the work of this group.
On May 8th 2014 Ms.Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. This new position in the UN human rights system aims to consolidate an understanding around older persons’ rights and foster the implementation of measures that contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons and civil society has an important role to play in the success of her mandate.
Older people can be involved in the UN work providing input to their country’s report on the implementation of Regional Strategy of the Madrid Action Plan, encouraging their countries to be involved in the UNECE Working Group on Ageing and the Open-ended Working Group and informing AGE of human rights violations in their country so that these examples of shortcomings to older people’s rights can be raised in the OEWG discussions to build the case for new UN action. To learn more about how you can engage with the new Independent Expert and the OEWG you may read AGE's toolkit on the UN processes on the rights of older people.