United Nations’ working group on ageing recommends binding instrument to protect older people’s rights

AGE delegation in New-York

For the first time in its history the United Nations (UN) Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing adopted by consensus a decision recommending that UN Member States, in addressing possible gaps in the protection of the human rights of older persons, consider, among other options, the adoption of an “International legally binding instrument”

What is an “International legally binding instrument”?
An international legally binding instrument, also known as a United Nations human rights treaty or ‘United Nations convention,’ is adopted by multiple countries and carries legal obligations for those parties upon acceptance or ratification. In this case, it will address specific protection gaps for older persons to enjoy their human rights.

This important development took place during the 14th session of the OEWG in New York and rewards work initiated 14 years ago. In the next couple of days UN states will discuss concrete ways to implement the recommendations included in this decision, including how they can be taken forward by the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.

AGE Platform Europe hopes that the agreed recommendations will be presented at the General Assembly as a matter of urgency requesting the Human Rights Council to take action on the recommendations agreed at the 14th session. Next steps must include the full, effective and meaningful participation of older persons, their representative organisations, civil society organisation and national human rights institutions.

We particularly welcome the work of  the Ambassadors of Portugal and Brazil in the UN, for elaborating the recommendations and facilitating the intergovernmental negotiations as co-facilitators.

We also warmly welcome the statement of Ms. Teresa Sancho Castiello, General Director of IMSERSO (Ministry for Social Rights, Consumers and 2030 Agenda of Spain), outlining many reasons for advancing towards the adoption of an international legally binding instrument, which would include all the necessary guarantees for the protection of human rights in old age.  Delivering this statement, Spain joined the growing number of EU member states supporting a new UN Convention.

We wholeheartedly agree that this is the path that we must take and follow after the 14th session of the OEWG and we hope that the European Union and its member states will actively take measures to implement these recommendations and strengthen collaboration with older people’s organisations on the way towards a new legally binding instrument.



Nena Georgantzi

Human Rights Manager

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