Global Consultation: Towards new Convention on the Rights of Older Persons – NHRIs’ Engagement Opportunities and Why It Matters
17 February – 14:00-16:30 CET I Online event
Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English, French, and Spanish.
1.Introduction and background
The world population is ageing rapidly and it has an unprecedented impact on the socio-economic development of the countries. The challenges of an ageing population are being actively debated around the world. For instance, the enjoyment of basic human rights and freedoms by older persons during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic revealed many shortcomings in the human rights protection systems of many countries worldwide. Besides, the COVID-19 pandemic has made violations of the rights of older persons even more visible and serious.
For this purpose, the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (UN OEWGA) represents the specialized international forum for voicing concerns regarding the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and, simultaneously, for discussing ways forward and opportunities to improve and strengthen the respect for the rights of older persons. It was established in December 2010 by the UN General Assembly and brings together all Member States (MSs) of the UN. In 2012 UN General Assembly in the Resolution A/RES/67/139 included a clear task for OEWGA:
- Requests the Working Group to present to the General Assembly, at the earliest possible date, a proposal containing, inter alia, the main elements that should be included in an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons, which are not currently addressed sufficiently by existing mechanisms and therefore require further international protection.
Unfortunately, this mandate has not been fulfilled by OEWGA so far. Therefore, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as well as civil society organisations have been urging UN Member States to complete this task.
NHRIs play a key role in promoting and protecting the rights of older persons. Given their unique mandate, NHRIs bridge international standards within their national frameworks. NHRIs play a critical role in advancing the rights of older persons, including by presenting credible and relevant information about the situation on the ground to the UN and other international and regional fora, and by promoting implementation on the ground of international norms and standards and relevant recommendations. NHRIs, working collectively through GANHRI, are also well-placed in identifying global trends and gaps and in informing global policy development to address these.
2. Consultations ahead of upcoming 12th UN OEWGA Session
NHRIs have demonstrated their willingness and interest to take an active part in the UN OEWGA and contribute to ways of addressing the existing challenges and, as a result of sustained advocacy from GANHRI to rules and procedures of the OEWGA, allow for broad participation of NHRIs in its work. With the 12th Session of the UN OEWGA taking place from 11 to 14 April 2022, this consultation will provide a unique opportunity to GANHRI members, to learn more about the OEWGA’s work and discuss opportunities for engagement of NHRIs in its work, both individually and collectively through GANHRI.
3. Objectives of the consultation
- Sharing detailed information about the UN OEWGA and its role in strengthening international protection mechanisms of the rights of older persons as well as the role of the UN HRC and UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in this regard;
- Facilitate discussions among NHRIs to reinforce their roles at the UN level in the promotion and protection of older persons’ rights;
- Exchange of experiences, expectations, sharing priorities and approaches, discussing dilemmas and agreeing on some future steps/actions for the upcoming 12th Session of the UN OEWGA.
The consultation will have an informal open plenary and break-out group sessions. Participating NHRIs will be divided into regional/language breakout groups. The organizers aim for a highly interactive event with interaction and exchanges from all participants from the four GANHRI’s regions.
Proposed guiding questions for break-out group discussions are available in the Agenda below. The consultation is open to all GANHRI members and invited partners.
This consultation is co-organized by GANHRI (Working Group on Ageing and the Human Rights of Older Persons), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Human Rights Special Procedures.