The 11th session of the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on Ageing was held from 29 March to 1 April 2021. The working group aims to secure a Convention for the Rights of Older People.
There has never been a more urgent time to commit to a Convention to protect the Human Rights of Older People. The global pandemic has exposed the extent to which older adults are often ignored, marginalized, and undervalued. We have seen this in how countries have prioritized necessary resources and testing. It is evident in how the vaccine is being distributed. We have witnesses it in the many requirements for lock downs and restrictions, where older adults do not have a voice. And, in some countries, we have seen it with access to medical treatment.
A Convention to protect the rights of older people will affirm the value and dignity of older adults, the right to live safely in communities as a contributing member of society, the same right to access services as all others, and the right to seek redress when wronged, among others. A Convention will set a foundation for eliminating discrimination based on one’s stage in life. A legally binding Convention will reverse decades of defining peoples’ worth by their age and a short-sighted definition of productivity. Rather, it will value all lives through their entire life course because they are human. The pandemic did not create ageism or the need for a Convention, but it has forced us to address it.
The Global Ageing Network urged member states to take an honest look at their policies, practices and norms, to recognize that as our societies age, we can ill afford to cast aside those who have built our countries and communities. Their rights, like all rights, matter.
Marcus Riley, CEO for Ballycara and our representative of GAROP (Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People), presented a statement on behalf the Global Ageing Network and the Volunteers of America. Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRm2teBncgw.