Rights of older persons with disabilities: AGE discusses challenges at UN conference


In the first week of December, the states that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) met to discuss aspects of implementation of the Convention. The 13th session of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD (COSP13) hosted for the first time a Roundtable on addressing the rights and needs of older persons with disabilities. This was an important opportunity for AGE to address challenges and gaps in the interpretation and application of the CRPD when disability intersects with old age.

The Roundtable included a panel comprised of representatives of Member States and civil society. Speakers and participants underlined the relevance of the CRPD in the context of demographic ageing but also how COVID-19 has hit particularly hard older persons with disabilities, especially those living in institutions. Many stakeholders stressed the need to continue efforts to invest in deinstitutionalisation and that age and disability should not be a factor denying someone the right to live in the community when they require care and assistance. Rapid digitalisation was also cited as an important barrier for older persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis in society.

Nena@UN-CRPD-States-Conference-Dec20 Our Policy Coordinator on Human Rights Nena Georgantzi was elected to speak as representative of civil society during the roundtable discussion. Nena raised the issue of silos found in laws and policies that put older persons between two different support models. She deplored the existence of standards in the field of ageing that are in sharp contrast with the CRPD, which renders practically impossible the equal application of disability rights in old age.

She further asked States about progress to eliminate age barriers and different service models that apply to persons who need care when they are older.

AGE also co-sponsored a side event entitled ‘Our rights under threat as we grow old: A timely expert discussion on the intersection of disability and age’, which brought together the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Gerard Quinn and the UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all human rights by Older Persons, Claudia Mahler.

The background note for the roundtable, which highlights key challenges in the enjoyment of human rights by older persons with disabilities can be found here.

For more information you may contact Nena Georgantzi, Policy Coordinator on Human Rights & Non-Discrimination, nena.georgantzi@age-platform.eu

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