Marcus Riley Addresses United Nations Open-Ended Work Group on Ageing

On July 5th, Global Ageing Network Board Chair, Marcus Riley, had an opportunity to address the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) at the United Nations. The audience included dozens of country ministers NGO’s focused on ageing as well as those focused on Human Rights. Riley made a compelling appeal to continue the work towards a binding legal instrument to address the human rights of the world’s elders. Read his statement is below.

The Global Ageing Network is pleased to present a statement to the 8th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing on behalf of the 24,000 organisations we represent across more than 50 nations around the world.

We contribute as an NGO to this process in good faith and at significant cost, hence we look forward to consistent arrangements for the Open Ended Working Group that facilitate effective dialogue between member states and civil society.

Through our work we are fully cognizant of the ageing of our populations, the associated impacts and, importantly, the need for effective planning and enhanced legislative regimes  to support and foster positive ageing and ensure the protection of human rights as people age.

We have already heard today from member states, national statistics on ageing demographics.

UN data highlights the mega trends globally relating to the increasing numbers of older people:  In 2015, there were 901 million people aged 60 or over, it is projected to be 1.4 billion by 2030 and 2.1 billion by 2050.

Notably in the short-to-medium term, higher numbers of older populations are inevitable, given that the relevant cohorts are already alive.

The number of persons aged 80 or over is projected to more than triple by 2050.

It is our responsibility as a global society to be more aware of the risks and challenges for older members of our community such as the threat of elder abuse, discrimination and violence whilst fostering the opportunity for older people to flourish.  The vulnerable must be protected and all people no matter how frail or old supported to age successfully.  Ageing as a mega trend and associated human rights violations against older persons are universal issues and we need a universal instrument to underpin a comprehensive approach from all levels of society  to proactively and responsively address these issues.

A reality of global ageing is that a failure to act now on the violation of fundamental human rights during later life, including widespread discrimination and abuse, will come at a greater cost to societies in the near future as well as in the longer term.

Our question to the Open Ended Working Group including member states is that whilst legislative instruments may exist in some places now, are they currently adequate in addressing the violations to human rights in older age and will they be adequate as the population of older people dramatically increases across all regions of the globe?

While some countries have taken steps to affect redress from some human rights violations such as abuse and neglect, given the global trend towards ageing societies, a global response is in order. Accordingly the Global Ageing Network calls for a binding instrument to protect the rights of older persons. These rights deserve to be protected, no matter where older people may live.

Thank you.

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