Human rights and ageing: European States open up at the United Nations


New York City, United States of America – 16 April 2019

From 15 to 18 April, the 10th session of the Working Group on Ageing is being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Unlike in previous years, many States asked for the floor, to the point that civil society and national institutions responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights have not had time to have a say.

Among the first to speak: the European Union. After reiterating its attachment to values of dignity, freedom and human rights, Johan Ten Geuzendam, the representative of the European Union, pointed the importance to address ageism, 50 years after the term was first coined by the psychiatrist Robert Butler. While more and more research demonstrates the pervasiveness of ageism and its harmful effects on both people and society, the phenomenon remains widely unchallenged.

“We are pleased to hear openness from the European Union; this year statement called on the Working Group to make tangible progress towards the promotion of the human rights of older people – we can only welcome that!” said Borja Arrue, policy officer at AGE Platform Europe. The European Union has the potential to be at the forefront of the discussions to ensure that fundamental rights are guaranteed at all stages of life.

If States wish to make this UN working group a meaningful space for reflection and a driver of change, we encourage them to openly discuss with civil society organizations and fellow States about the gaps that still exist in the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons. Only then we will be able to envisage instruments to ensure that all can live free and equal until the end of our lives.

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