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The UN and Aging

By January 16, 2014No Comments

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NGOs concerned about ageing issues around the world are currently making efforts at the United Nations to ensure that the era beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) truly “leaves no one behind”, by urging Member States to take into account global population ageing.  The absence of reference to older persons in the MDGs has been recognized and Governments are being asked to pay attention to demographic trends when formulating a post-2015 sustainable framework.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Older persons are the world’s fastest growing population group

  • 2012 – 810 million aged 60 years and over (11.5% of world population)
  • 2030 – more people over 60 than children under 10 years
  • 2050 – 2 billion aged 60 years and over (21.8% of world population)
  • For every 100 women aged 60 or over, there are 84 men.

BEYOND MDGs

NGOs concerned about aging issues around the world are currently making efforts at the United Nations to ensure that the era beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) truly “leaves no one behind”, by urging Member States to take into account global population aging.  The absence of reference to older persons in the MDGs has been recognized and Governments are being asked to pay attention to demographic trends when formulating a post-2015 sustainable framework.  NGOs are requesting, at a minimum, that:

  1. All goals and targets must take account of the rights of people at all stages of their lives,
  2. All data collected must be disaggregated and analyzed for all ages up to and beyond 100,
  3. There must be social protection and decent work for all people of all ages and abilities,
  4. Health services must be available at all stages of life,
  5. Gender equality must cover women of all ages.

HUMAN RIGHTS OF OLDER PERSONS

Over the past several years, a number of Governments have been pushing for an international instrument or convention to protect and strengthen the rights of older persons. Numerous studies have concluded that while most international human rights instruments are applicable to all age groups, including older persons, a number of human rights issues particularly relevant to older persons have not been given sufficient attention. These include: age discrimination, access by older persons to work, adequate health services and social protection, protection from abuse, violence and neglect, and long-term care (Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/24/25).

The General Assembly of the United Nations has established an Open-ended Working Group on Aging (OEWG) to look into the above issues and has asked Governments and civil society to suggest elements for such an international convention.  Many NGOs have participated in OEWG, providing evidence, data and analyses in support of a convention.  Discussions are continuing.  Meanwhile, the Human Rights Council decided (September 2013) to appoint an independent expert to also look into this matter.

WHAT NGOs CAN DO

NGOs involved in aging issues, as well as those focused on human rights, social justice, equality, violence against women, health, non-communicable diseases and people with disabilities should:

            1.  Collaborate and urge community leaders and national authorities to pay                                  attention to what is happening at the United Nations on aging issues,

            2.  Stress the significance of the changing demographics,

            3.  Campaign for the inclusion of older persons in the post 2015 sustainable                                  framework and for a convention to protect the rights of older persons.

 

REFERENCES:

–  Aging in the Twenty-First Century: a Celebration and a Challenge: “”www.unfpa.org.

“This landmark publication, representing a collaboration of over 20 United Nations            entities and major international organizations working in the field of aging, reviews   policies and action taken by governments and other stakeholders since the Second World    Assembly on Aging in 2002. In addition to providing many inspiring examples of     innovative programmes that address population aging and the concerns of older   persons,” UNFPA

–  Aging Section of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Office of   the High Commissioner for Human Rights: www.ohchr.org

–  NGO Committee on Ageing: www.ngocoa-ny.org

Frances Zainoeddin

Gray Panthers Representative to the UN