The Social Forum is an annual event established by the Human Rights Council to enable an ongoing dialogue between the United Nations and a range of actors, including civil society and grass roots organisations. The 2014 edition, which took place between 1-3 April in Geneva, stressed that much remains to be done regarding the rights of older persons.
“A dedicated instrument for the protection of older persons at the international level would have the greatest reach and prominence, and would bring coherence to an otherwise fragmented, uneven and incomplete landscape of legal norms”, mentioned the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, in her opening speech.
Ms. Monica Roque from Argentina, who chaired the meeting and many of the participants at the 2014 Forum echoed the High Commissioner’s views stressing the importance of a dedicated human rights instrument to clarify the human rights of older persons and strengthen accountability on the part of governments.
Whereas civil society was active in this UN event, Member States participation was low. AGE Platform Europe made panel presentations on older persons’ right to autonomy and independence and on long-term care, spoke in a side event on ageing persons with autism and delivered a statement on behalf of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People, stressing the need to strengthen and facilitate the participation of older persons in the global debate about their rights.
Panel discussion focused around key areas of rights: discrimination, health, social security and work, violence, autonomy and long-term care. Bilateral, regional and universal approaches to the human rights challenges of ageing were also discussed. Civil society delivered a joint NGO concluding statement arguing that the Social Forum had shown arguments against a convention were invalid; calling for a more substantive and in depth discussion on what protections, guarantees and standards are needed to respond to the range of human rights violations older people experience; and calling for steps to be taken to ensure greater participation by older people in these processes.
The programme of work and the presentations and statements made during the Social Forum are available here.