AGE Participation to the 4th Session of Open-ended Working Group on Ageing

Fourth session of the UN Open-ended Working on Ageing, New York, 12-15 August 2013

The fourth session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG)[1]took place on 12-15 August 2013 with a renewed mandate as approved by aUN General Assembly resolution, which asked the group to explore the main elements of an international instrument to protect the human rights of older people. This new mandate was questioned by some Member States (MS) opposed to a new legal instrument, due to the large number of abstentions in the adoption of the resolution. The first day opened with a long list of statements by MS, which demonstrated an increasing interest in the discussions. MS remain divided on whether a UN Convention is the best way forward with Latin American states advocating for a legally binding mechanism and the EU, Switzerland, US and Canada leading the opposition. Nevertheless, in this session African States aligned themselves to a Common position in support of a new legal instrument while some Asian states, also made statements in favour of a new treaty.

Civil society presence was strengthened this year with all participating associations joining forces to highlight why a new UN instrument is needed to ensure older persons can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with other age groups. You may read about AGE’s position here. For the first time, this session included an interactive dialogue with civil society, while many MS and the EU recognized that the continued engagement of NGOs and older persons is crucial in these discussions.

In his concluding remarks the Chair also made reference to AGE’s proposal to include civil society and older persons themselves in national and regional delegations to the OEWG and urged everyone to extent NGO participation in this debate. Argentina made a proposal for the establishment of a group of member states, which would take joint actions as a ‘Group of Friends of Older Persons’.

The EU representation at the UN organized a side event on mobilizing the potential of older persons to create societies for all ages, building on the outcomes of the EY2012, where AGE was invited to speak about our campaign towards an age-friendly EU and our collaboration with various stakeholders to promote the rights and dignity of older persons. More information about this event can be found online.

AGE Platform Europe (AGE) welcomes the active participation of UN delegations during the 4 days of the OEWG, which confirmed that while the existing human rights framework applies to everyone without age limits, older persons encounter significant barriers and protection gaps in the realisation of their human rights. We have made various interventions during the fourth session both providing substantial input to the debate but also highlighting that we regret that the EU’s position in the OEWG is not adequately informed by the views of senior citizens. So far, there is no transparency about how this position is shaped and there are no instances for older persons to be consulted. AGE has brought this to the attention of Vice-President Reding and Mr. Lambrinidis, in a letter asking for the establishment of a multi-stakeholder dialogue group on the rights of older persons.

“As a self-advocacy organisation and speaking in favour of further development of participatory democracy, we firmly believe that older persons should have a strong voice in all processes that affect them. We therefore support the concluding remarks of the Chair of the OEWG, which made reference to AGE’s proposal to include civil society and older persons themselves in national and regional delegations. The involvement of civil society will give a genuine added value to the discussions and will legitimise the whole process”, said Mr. Marjan Sedmak, AGE President.

For AGE a UN legal instrument such as a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons is needed to fully understand how existing human rights apply to older people and can be effectively enforced as part of the UN system. Such an instrument would not only codify the rights of older persons in one single document – which is indeed an important tool to increase visibility of older people, guide policies and advocacy and raise public awareness – but it would also specify State obligations, improve accountability and broaden overall understanding of the rights of older persons as well as create societies and environments for all ages, where older people are able to contribute, prosper and enjoy their rights. Human rights violations cannot be adequately addressed as long as the rights of older persons remain optional.

All relevant documentation can be found on the webpage of the OEWG while discussions are available on archived videos online.

AGE’s press release on the outcomes of the OEWG can be found here.

AGE’s contributions in the OEWG:

For more information you may contact Nena Georgantzi, Legal & Research Officer,

The OEWG was set up by the UN General Assembly in 2010 to discuss how to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older persons, including the possibility of a new legal instrument

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