United Nations: 140 countries jointly call for respect of the rights and dignity of older people and global solidarity
Brussels, Belgium - 13 May 2020
Time has come to adopt a new United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.
On Monday 11th May, almost three quarters of the member states represented at the United Nations issued a joint statement recognising the escalating ageism, neglect and discrimination affecting older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement recognises the meaningful participation of older people in society and the importance to strengthen international and intergenerational solidarity during the crisis and recovery process. It follows and supports a policy brief released on 1st May by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the impact of the pandemic on older people.
AGE strongly welcomes this statement and congratulates all European Union Member States and the EU for signing this important document:
"This statement is unprecedented both in terms of the comprehensiveness of its message and of the numbers of signatories. We are extremely pleased that the concerns raised by AGE in our recent report on the Human Rights of Older People during COVID-19 have been heard. We look forward to working with Heads of State and Government in developing the legal safeguards and mechanisms that will allow for a better protection and promotion of human rights at all ages.”
Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe (AGE)
The current pandemic has thrown into sharp relief how inadequate and inconsistent laws fail to equally protect human rights in old age and laid bare the need for a new UN convention to prevent further breaches in the future.
AGE and its member organisations at national level remain available to work in partnership with UN member states and EU representatives on the next steps. Without further delay, we urge to:
Reschedule as soon as possible the 11th session for the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (cancelled due to COVID-19) to advance the discussions on the gaps in the protection of human rights in older age and accelerate efforts to develop proposals for a new UN convention on the rights of older persons;
Advance on a common position at European Union level in favour of a new international instrument to protect human rights in older age, following the example of the great progress brought by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) since its ratification by the EU in 2010;
Consult and partner with civil society organisations, including those representing directly older people, in the development of measures related to the containment of COVID-19 and following recovery process, as well as any other policy measure planned for older persons.
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- AGE webpage on COVID-19
- AGE Policy Paper “COVID-19 and human rights concerns for older persons”
- UN Secretary General Policy Brief (1 May) “The Impact of COVID-19 on older persons”
- UN Member States joint statement, co-signed by 140 signatories
For more information, please contact
> Estelle Huchet
> Nena Georgantzi
Human Rights Coordinator