Protecting the Rights of Older Persons: – The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the UN Treaty Bodies
Technical briefing 19 August 2016, Geneva within the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Older people worldwide experience discrimination and the violation of their rights at family, community and institutional levels. Unprecedented global demographic ageing means that the number of older people who are likely to experience discrimination will also increase. Despite the fact that most international human rights treaties apply in principle to people of all ages, specific reference to older people is extremely rare.
The Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) was established by the General Assembly by resolution 65/182 on 21 December 2010, with the mandate to examine the existing international framework to protect the human rights of older persons, identify possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures.
The Human Rights Council (HRC), through resolution 24/20 established the mandate of an “Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons”.
Her first report was just released, and will soon be available on the Human Rights Council website
This briefing, organised by the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance (ILC GA) and the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva, with the support of Age International, would contribute to the substantial discussions taking place in the OEWG. Speakers include Silvia Perel-Levin, Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva, Klemen Ponikvar, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to UNOG in Geneva, Nena Georgantzi, Policy Officer on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination, AGE Platform Europe. Presenting to the members of the CRPD committee, the briefing would focus on the current state of the OEWG, the main arguments in favour of and against a Convention on the rights of older persons, what specific rights such an instrument might include, and an analysis of the distinctions and intersections with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Sabine Kinzer, SI UN Representative Geneva explains: “The Technical Briefing was held at the 16th session of the CRPD Committee, at the Palais Wilson. The theme was Protecting the Rights of Older Persons: The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the UN Treaty Bodies. There were about thirty participants which is quite positive for this time of the year, particularly as it took place in the Palais Wilson which is quite far from the UN Palais in Geneva. It’s clear discrimination and abuse against the elderly is rising – at greatest risk are older people without education. Although not all older persons are persons with disabilities, there is of course a link between disability and older persons – this is evident, however there is a limited understanding of Human Rights in old age”.
Sabine adds: “There were nine representatives of Governments present: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Fiji,
Montenegro, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland and UK.
Topics included amongst other issues: Anticipating Demographic changes: 25% up by 2030, and projecting of up to 30% by 2060 within the broader European Union. Older persons wish: No special treatment, but equal application of Human Rights. It should not be about treating older persons in a vacuum as such, but ensuring that their rights do not diminish, nor do they become of less importance with age. Recognizing the human worth and enabling them to contribute to society. Therefore, it is important that older people start to know their rights and make better use of the existing tools in order to defend them. Education in technology was also mentioned: it is not possible anymore to live without technology information. This requires lifelong education and training especially for older persons, or they are left behind".
The International Longevity Center Global Alliance is a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council since 2012. ILC GA consist consists of 17 centres around the world. The mission of the ILC Global Alliance is to help societies to address longevity and population ageing in positive and productive ways, typically using a life course approach, highlighting older people’s productivity and contributions to society as a whole. The Alliance partners carry out the mission through developing innovative ideas, research, advocacy and creating fora for debate and action, in which older persons are key stakeholders. http://www.ilc-alliance.org
The NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva, works to further the United Nations’ mission of building a society for all ages. It raises awareness of ageing by organising events at the UN around the International Day of Older persons and at the Human Rights Council in partnership with the UN, the office of the Independent Expert on the rights of older persons, UNECE, UNFPA, WHO, ILO and others. It advocates for the inclusion of older persons at the Human Rights mechanisms and at the specialised agencies based in Geneva. The Committee also functions as a platform for exchanging information among NGOs active at the UN in Geneva. It maintains regular communication with the Vienna and New York UN NGO Committees on Ageing and is a member of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing.
Age International is the only UK charity working for and with older people in developing countries. It is a subsidiary charity of Age UK and a member of the HelpAge International global network. It helps older people around the world by reducing poverty, improving health, protecting rights and responding to emergencies, so they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Age International is a founding member of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People.