AGE responded to the call of the United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons to assess the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), as part of the preparation of her final report due for September 2016.
Low levels of awareness of MIPAA and its added value for older persons
Our members’ answers illustrate that – more than 10 years after its adoption – MIPAA is not sufficiently known and used by older persons, their representative organisations and policymakers. This is an important barrier in how far the MIPAA can have an impact on the ground. Moreover, governments are doing practically nothing to increase awareness of MIPAA, its added value and how older persons can use it. Some information around it was disseminated when it was adopted, but since then, states have not renewed their efforts through necessary information and training campaigns to NGOs, officials and other stakeholders. Neither has the EU taken a leading role in disseminating information around MIPAA, while it has only marginally referred to it in its policies, mainly when consolidating the existing policy framework on ageing. There is a need for serious awareness raising around MIPAA at local, national and EU levels, in order to match its policy commitments to the ground.
MIPAA has not driven policy change in a comprehensive way
Although a number of good practices exist across the EU (as it will be shown later on), the extent to which MIPAA has been influential in achieving these remains unclear. Our members explain that governments are not making additional efforts to implement MIPAA, but are only progressing in ways and areas that they are willing to, mainly based on existing national priorities. In other words, MIPAA has failed to guide policy change in a comprehensive and impactful manner. Neither has its implementation included monitoring and implementation mechanisms that allow to hold states accountable and to evaluate the impact of policy measures on the rights of older persons, including those taken during budget consolidation.
Inequalities and human rights violations still persist across the EU
The lack of coordinated policy measures is the cause of important disparities across the EU, within countries and among policy sectors, as governments may advance in one policy area and not in others or do not take due account of the impact of measures on the most vulnerable parts of the population. Our members also demonstrate that employment, active ageing and consumer policies are privileged upon issues of discrimination, ageism, abuse, care and adequate income, which remain important challenges for the rights of older people.
Lack of involvement of older persons
Although MIPAA foresees the active involvement of older persons in all processes that affect them, most national governments either do not consult older people at all or do so marginally and on a case-by-case basis, thus lacking bottom-up mechanisms. Initiatives like the Age-Friendly Cities and Counties in Ireland have provided more useful platforms for the engagement of older people at grassroots level.
Human rights do not underpin government policies on ageing
Human rights are rarely mentioned explicitly either as a means or a goal in ageing policies and related measures. Overall the EU and national governments have failed to inspire a rights-based vision of ageing that affirms that all older persons, no matter whether they are ageing in health and benefiting from supportive environments or are faced with disadvantages, such as frailty and isolation, should remain in charge of their own lives and be given equal opportunities to participate in their communities. More than ever, the ongoing economic concerns challenge our view of older persons and ageing, as public policies tend to equate old age with dependency, impairments and burden and focus on what individuals can do to reduce the costs of ageing, rather than what governments should do to fulfil the human rights of older persons.
The MIPAA has not provided the so-much needed guidance and accountability mechanisms to ensure that human rights can be applied to the specific situation of older persons. It has not tackled the lack of awareness of older people’s rights and how they can be claimed by older persons, the structural barriers and the negative attitudes against them. Neither has it managed to mainstream older people’s rights across all governmental policies, as explained above. The lack of empowerment of older persons and the persisting inequalities are in contradiction with the rights-based approach that the MIPAA aims to promote.
For more information:
- AGE response to the UN Independent Expert Questionnaire on the Implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA)
- UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons – call for submissions
Or contact Nena Georgantzi, Policy officer, email@example.com