Ageism, discrimination and denial of rights in older age continue to be tolerated across the world...
(c) HelpAge International
Download our new report Living, not just surviving in which older people speak up about their rights.
We need a convention on the rights of older people
Existing human rights mechanisms fail to adequately protect and promote the rights of older people. We believe that a single instrument, a new international convention on the rights of older people, is the most effective way to make sure that all people enjoy their human rights in older age, and on an equal basis with others.
We need a convention to:
- establish legal standards that challenge and replace stigmatising and dehumanising ageist attitudes and behaviour
- clarify how human rights apply in older age
- ensure states understand their human rights obligations to us in our older age
- better understand and assert our rights in our older age
- improve accountability of states for their human rights obligations towards us in older age
- provide a framework for policy and decision making.
A convention must:
- provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all our human rights in older age
- prohibit all forms of discrimination in older age in every aspect of our lives
- articulate how each human right specifically applies to us in older age
- provide for a strong implementation, monitoring and accountability system.
The UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing
The UN established the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) in 2010. Its purpose is to strengthen the protection of older people's rights by reviewing how existing instruments address older people's rights, identify gaps in protection, and explore the feasibility of new instruments.
HelpAge and other civil society organisations actively engage with this process. Age Demands Action activists and our partner organisations call on their governments to support a convention and participate constructively in the process. We support older people to take part in the OEWG and we submit evidence from our programmes around the world to demonstrate why their rights need protecting.
Progress towards a convention
To date, the OEWG has clearly established that there are gaps in the international human rights framework with regard to older people's rights. Support for a new convention is growing among member states from every region of the world.
National human rights institutions were granted participation rights in the OEWG for the first time at its seventh session in December 2016. The OEWG also decided to focus its discussions on what the content of a new instrument might be before deciding what type of instrument would be most suitable.
The eighth OEWG took place in New York in July 2017 and discussed the rights to non-discrimination and equality, and to freedom from violence, abuse and neglect. HelpAge consulted older women across 19 countries on these two rights in order to ensure the discussion at the OEWG was informed by the lived experience of older people themselves. Read what they said in our report Entitled to the same rights. Two ADA activists and five network members attended the session, and eight network members submitted evidence to a written consultation.
The ninth OEWG took place 23–26 July 2018. It looked at the content of the rights to non-discrimination and equality, and to freedom from violence, abuse and neglect in more detail. It also discussed new topics: autonomy and independence, long-term care and palliative care. Ahead of the OEWG, we consulted older people to find out their experience of these rights ito share with governments, civil society organisations and human rights institutions. Read our report Freedom to decide for ourselves and find out more here.
The tenth OWEG took place 15-17 April 2019. The focus was on older people’s rights to social protection and social security and to education and lifelong learning. In our report, Living not just surviving, we consulted older people about their experience of these rights ahead of the OEWG. Find out more here.
How you can support older people
The FAIR guidelines
We have created a new set of guidelines for civil society organisations wishing to influence their governments to support a convention.The new FAIR guidelines are organised as four “steps” towards a new convention, helping organisations navigate their advocacy journey with practical tips and clear milestones. Read more here.
Download the FAIR guidelines: