Postponed because of COVID-19 the 11th session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG11) took place between the 29th March and 1st April 2021. The OEWG11 was held mainly virtually, allowing the participation of all stakeholders.
Only two procedural meetings on the first and last day that required voting by Member States delegations took place in person at the UN headquarters in New York.
Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older people’s rights over the last year, the OEWG11 included a High-Level Panel on COVID-19 and older persons. Moreover, the OEWG11 included further discussion around how the two focus areas discussed in the tenth session of the OEWG should be articulated in a new convention (‘normative inputs’), covering namely:
- Social protection and social security, including social protection floors;
- Education, training, lifelong learning and capacity-building
The eleventh session also included substantive debates around two new focus areas:
- Access to justice;
- The right to work and access to the labour market
All material and statements made by the non-for-profit organisations (NGOs), National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), States, experts and United Nations agencies of this session are available on the OEWG webpage.
You may watch all the recorded sessions of OEWG11 and the side events on UN Web TV.
Our preparation for OEWG11
Ahead of the OEWG11 AGE launched the #EULeadsTheRally campaign, which aimed to increase political support for a UN convention by the EU and its member states. Our campaign includes several materials that NGOs can use to have discussions with government officials, advocate and campaign at national level.
Before the OEWG11 we also had meetings with the cabinets of Vice President Suica and Commissioner Dalli, as well as with representatives of the EU External Action Service (EEAS) expressing our disappointment that DG Justice has not led the EU delegation at the OEWG this year and that there was no consultation of civil society ahead of the OEWG11. We drew their attention to our #EULeadsTheRally and called for the update of the joint EU position with regard to the feasibility and added value of a convention. We agreed that we will have follow-up meetings to take stock of the findings of the OEWG11 after the Easter break.
Our participation in OEWG11
AGE was represented by Ebbe Johansen – our President, Nena Georgantzi – AGE Policy Coordinator on Human Rights, and Philippe Seidel – AGE Policy and Project Officer.
We made oral interventions in 4 out of the 7 items of the 11th session of the OEWG and submitted written statements for all the sessions. Our statements can be found here. Several of AGE members, including BAGSO, OWN Europe, HelpAge Deutschland, FIAPA, Red Cross Serbia and 50+ Hellas made oral and/or submitted written statements.
AGE co-sponsored a side event on the right to access justice for older persons and persons with disabilities, which brought together the UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons, Ms Claudia Mahler and UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Persons with Disabilities Mr. Gerard Quinn.
> The recording of the side event, which was moderated by our Policy Coordinator, Ms. Nena Georgantzi can be found here.
AGE expert, Ms Barbro Westerholm from Sweden, spoke at a side event organized by the World Health Organisation, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Populations Fund, which offered an opportunity to continue the global conversation on ageism, based on the recently launched UN report on ageism.
> The recording of the side event can be found here.
AGE Policy Coordinator, Ms Nena Georgantzi, spoke at a side event, which presented key findings and recommendations from a recent study by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The study provides an updated analysis of protection gaps and the adequacy of the existing international legal framework for the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons. It was conducted with financial help from Germany and Austria. The side event was co-sponsored by the OHCHR, Austria, Chile, Germany, Slovenia, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People and the World Health Organization.
> Watch here the recording of this side event
AGE Written input to OEWG11
We have also submitted two reports that are posted on the OEWG website and will feed into its deliberations:
- Human Rights are for All Ages: The EU Must Lead the Rallying for a UN Convention | Summary, March 2021
- The Right to Work in Old Age – How the EU Employment Framework Directive still leaves older workers behind, March 2021
Together with HelpAge International and other experts, we have prepared two discussion papers focusing the thematic areas of the OEWG11:
Our answers to the call of the OEWG chair for input on the right to work and access to justice and the normative elements of the right to lifelong learning and social protection are available here.
- Join the #EULeadsTheRally campaign
- Discover what would be the added-value of a UN convention
- Learn about the UN Open-Ended Working Group and how NGOs can get involved
- Read our Special Briefing on the 11th session of the OEWG
- Read the recent study from OHCHR on the need for a UN convention
- Watch the video statements by AGE members on the need for a convention: Liz Mestheneos of 50+ Hellas (Greece), Heidrun Mollenkopf of BAGSO (Germany), Francoise Sauvage, Philippe Gutton and Martine Gruere of Old Up (France).
- Read the discussion Paper “Time for a UN convention on the rights of older people: How the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the need to protect our rights in old age”
- HelpAge global campaign
- GAROP #AgeWithRights campaign
For more information on the OEWG and AGE contributions, please contact Nena Georgantzi.