When people get older, they do not lose their universal human rights. Rights empower individuals to actively participate in social, economic, cultural and political life. Rights empower people to take charge of their own affairs and decide how they wish to live. Rights empower people to give an opinion that is judged of equal merit to anyone else’s opinion. Rights ensure that all people, whether old or young are treated with dignity.
Age discrimination and ageism deny the right of an older person to live a full life. Neglecting to challenge that discrimination also violates that right. Unfortunately this is all too common across the world, but it could change.
New UN mechanisms would not only protect older people from abuse and violence, but also empower older people to live their lives as fully as possible.
If older people’s rights were better respected and they were supported to live their lives as fully as possible, society as a whole would benefit. There would be less poverty, local economies would improve and there would be positive knock-on effects in health, not just of older people, but of younger people who live with them too.
A unique opportunity
The UN has decided to discuss whether and how to protect and promote the rights of older people by setting up the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing. It is the only place where the rights of older people are discussed on a global level, by national government representatives who have the power to bring about change.
The working group was established in 2010 and has had two meetings so far. It is due to meet again in August this year. But so far, participation in the meetings has been low and mainly limited to some Latin American and European governments, who together only represent 25% of the global population. This is not enough.
We believe all governments in all regions should take part in the discussions to represent all the older people of today and tomorrow.
What you can do
The only existing route to the convention is under threat and we need to stop it from disappearing!
We have a short window of opportunity to improve political participation at the OEWG on Ageing meeting in August. We need to put pressure on national ministries responsible for ageing to ask their governments to send a representative to the OEWG meeting in August 2012. We can use national human rights institutes as allies in this fight.
We want governments to be there in August!
In order to make ADA for Rights a success, we will be collecting signatures for the ADA petition and supporting delegations of older people to meet key officials who can support the OEWG discussions.
We have a short window of opportunity to improve government participation at the Open-ended Working Group meeting in August. To do this you can:
- Ask your government to send a human rights representative to the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing in New York from 21-24 August.
- If they cannot attend, ask them to submit a statement supporting the establishment of international human rights mechanisms via the Bureau of representatives from the member states which manage the work (Argentina, Luxembourg, Qatar and Albania. There is no Bureau member from Africa yet).
- If you are from an African country, insist that someone from your country or region attends. Suggest that they become the regional leaders in ageing, and assume the position of Bureau member.
- Show that aging is a human rights issue and provide information on discrimination against older people and rights’ violations to government representatives in capital cities and to their UN Missions in New York.
- Tell your government that you think the introduction of new UN mechanisms, such as a Special Rapporteur on the rights of older people or regular studies and meetings on ageing or a new Convention will help lessen discrimination in your country but also in others.
- Ask to meet with a representative in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who decides what the government says in New York to discuss issues that you think need to be raised at the meeting in August.
- Organise a meeting with members of other civil society groups and your National Human Rights Institution if there is one and discuss how to mobilise more people to help convince the government of the importance of participating.
We want every government to at the Open-ended Working Group meeting in August
Over the past five years, ADA campaigners have been collecting signatures for the Age Demands Action petition which calls on governments and the international community to actively include older people in development policies at home and internationally. The petition is part of our global campaign pushing for a UN convention on older people’s rights. ADA for Rights is the opportunity to demonstrate that people around the world are calling for a UN convention and that it is needed. The petition is a resource to evidence that people across the world are putting pressure for the rights of all older people to be protected by governments.
Over 32,000 people from more than 130 countries have signed our Age Demands Action petition and we need at least 50,000 by the end of June. The petition will be presented in support of the UN Convention.
The petition can be found on the Age Demands Action website
Want to hear more about the campaign actions in each country? Visit our Age Demands Action webpages and find out more. (www.agedemandsaction.org)