After two years of limited participation and virtual meetings, the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) met in-person from 11-14 April 2022 for the 12th working group sessions for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. The Global Ageing Network serves as an advocate for the interests and needs of our members and actively participates in UN related events and discussions.
Highlighted throughout the UN proceedings was the dire treatment of older adults throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated the inequalities that older people face. Ageism was another theme that arose from many of the presentations and statements provided during the proceedings.
NGO and Member states have called out repeatedly for a legally binding United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. The Convention aims to (as stated by the American Society on Aging):
- Combat ageism by adopting laws to fight discrimination, as well as foster independence and equity.
- Improve elders’ lives though economic empowerment (i.e., mandating the right to adequate standards of living, the right to work, the right to education, access to health care and long-term care).
- Clarify ratifying members states’ responsibilities for older adults and strengthen existing laws with precise language.
- Mandate the right to healthcare and mental health care.
- Ensure dignity in that it will include the right to privacy, right to freedom from abuse and violence and right to physical security.
- Present a framework for good policy on older adults and encourage data collection for elders so that governments can allocate resources.
Although there are a few Member states who do not support the Convention, impeding its development, the majority are in favor of a Convention arguing that the continued lack of engagement of members states is unacceptable; in Ukraine, older people are unable to flee the fighting and yet, the working group is unable to fulfill the development of an international legal document; now is the time for action and concrete outcomes! As GAROP, we call upon member states to fulfill and draft the convention for older adults.
Markijke Depauw, from HelpAge International, provided a strong plea for the Convention, stating, “No concrete outcomes have been achieved, nor any formal decisions made. The position of those few Members States that continue to block progress is indefensible, and those that wish to live up to their commitment must find ways to move forward.”
The Global Ageing Network supports the development of a Convention.