AGE involvement in the work of the United Nations on the human rights of older persons
AGE was invited to take part in a United Nations (UN) Expert Group meeting on the Rights of Older People in preparation of the third Open Ended Working Group meeting that will take place in New York 21-24 August 2012.
The Open Ended Working Group (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 them, including considering the feasibility of further 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.
The objective of this meeting was to inform the debate going on at the OEWG from a substantive human rights perspective by addressing existing gaps in the protection, respect and fulfillment of human rights of older persons. The meeting took a thematic approach discussing risks and protection gaps under the headings of: age discrimination; right to health; violence and abuse; long-term care; dignity (adequate standard of living); access to justice.
AGE was invited to give a presentation on elder abuse but also contributed to the other subjects including age discrimination, highlighting multiple discrimination; health, raising the issue of health inequalities, the individualization of health risks and the intersection of poverty and health; dignity and social protection, focusing on the high risk of poverty among older persons and the need for an adequate and sustainable old age income and long-term care, adding issues of independent living and accessibility. AGE is also invited to participate in the third session of the OEWG giving two presentations.
Why is AGE involvement at the UN level important?
- First, as the EU and its member states are big players also at the UN level, AGE is able to follow the discussions at the international level and can counterbalance the views of decision-makers ensuring that the views of European senior citizens are represented in the debate and that the challenges that older Europeans are facing are taken into account.
- Second, it allows AGE to build on the synergies between initiatives at the international level and those taken at the European level, including outside the EU, as is the case with the Council of Europe non-binding instrument on the rights of the elderly.
- Third, AGE assures that the voices of older people are heard in the debate and that representatives of older persons can be involved in the process.
- Fourth, the work of AGE and our members gains visibility and can feed into the UN process.
- Last, AGE has the opportunity to network, make contacts with experts who have substantial experience in ageing issues
and learn from the experience of other countries and civil society organisations that work at the UN level.
Further details on the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the Expert Group meeting can be found on the UN website: http://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/