UN disability committee holds a meeting on the rights of older persons

Nena@UN disability committee2016 AGE spoke at a briefing organised in the margins of the work of the UN Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 19th August 2016 to discuss the rights of older persons with civil society and member states.

The aim of this briefing, which was supported by Age International and the NGO Committee on Ageing, was to present to the members of the CRPD committee the current state of discussions in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG), the main arguments in favour and against a Convention on the rights of older persons and what specific rights such new instrument might include. In additions, intersections with disability rights were also considered.

Mr. Klemen Ponikvar, from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia gave on overview of the outcomes of the OEWG so far and expressed his country’s commitment for a strengthened protection of older people’s rights. Slovenia is open to the idea of the possibility of new UN instrument for older persons and has also recently organised a high-level event on the same topic.

Nena Georgantzi, Policy Officer of AGE Platform Europe explored some of the deep structural and cultural factors that impede older people from enjoying their rights like everyone else. She stressed that this debate should not be about creating a scheme of special protection or a separate category of the population, but about ensuring that rights do not diminish or become of less importance as we age. She moreover put forward some concrete ideas for collaboration with the CRPD committee and exposed several cases of discrimination against older people with disabilities.

Members of the Committee expressed a real interest in the views of older people and called on NGOs to send information about the situation of older people when the Committee is evaluating country reports. Only if they receive such information by older people’s organisations will the committee be able to address the structural disadvantages that older people with functional limitations face, the experts explained. In addition they were interested in how innovative solutions are used to support the rights of older people and whether laws and policies enshrine the role of such assistive technologies. The expert from Uganda briefly presented the situation of older people in his country and also suggested that purely chronological definitions of old age make little sense in those developing countries with lower life expectancies. Members of the CRPD committee and civil society welcomed the opportunity to work more closely together while recognising that attention should be made so that the conventions’ standards/achievements/ are not put in question.

AGE hopes that this was the first of many future exchanges with the CRPD committee and will continue working with our members to raise awareness of the disability convention and contribute to the committee’s work. A report of this event will be presented at the next meeting of the OEWG in December 2016.

For more information, you may contact Nena Georgantzi, Policy Officer for Human Rights, nena.georgantzi@age-platform.eu

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