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An Open Letter to the United Nations General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing for the Purpose of Strengthening the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons (OEWGA)

  • 2021-10-19
  • 1726

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An Open Letter to the United Nations General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing for the Purpose of Strengthening the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons (OEWGA)

20th of September 2021

 

Background

 

As human rights advocates from different backgrounds and regions of the world, we want a world where we can all age with rights, dignity and respect. The OEWGA can help to make this vision a reality by fulfilling its mandate to consider proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons and to present to the UN General Assembly a proposal containing the main elements of such instrument.

 

Since its creation in 2010, the OEWGA has held 11 working sessions. Throughout these discussions, the OEWGA has seen a wealth of evidence confirming the glaring deficiencies in the international human rights system as it relates to the human rights of older persons. This material has been presented by older persons themselves, experts from the UN system, civil society organizations, academia, governments, and national human rights institutions, who are also calling for the adoption of a convention to address these shortcomings.

 

The study launched by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the 11th session confirms that the development of more specific norms and standards within a new dedicated international instrument is required to ensure that no older person, regardless of circumstance, is left behind.

 

Despite this evidence in support of a UN convention and the further impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OEWGA has made little concrete progress towards identifying the elements of a possible new instrument and has not yet fulfilled its mandate in this regard. While there are many Member States which have actively supported a convention, the lack of consensus has prevented clear outcomes from the OEWGA.

 

While we recognize the importance of consensus and the need to continue to build this in the OEWGA, we also note that 146 States formally supported the Secretary General’s Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and committed to fully promoting and respecting the dignity and rights of older persons. This is a strong foundation from which the OEWGA must now seek to move forward.

 

A new UN convention would explicitly and unambiguously recognize older persons as rights holders and strengthen our understanding of human rights in older age. It would provide valuable guidance for governments and others to ensure that age discrimination is prohibited in the law, services uphold the dignity of older persons, and attitudes and behaviors towards older persons are respectful.


The OEWGA Bureau, chaired by the Permanent Mission of Argentina since the OEWGA’s first session, is in a pivotal position to drive progress in this work. Thus, we call on the Bureau to take concrete steps to progress the work of the OEWGA in the inter-sessional period between the 11th and 12th sessions of OEWGA and we call on Member States to support the Bureau in taking those steps.

 

Recommendations for next steps

 

We support the proposal made by Argentina in the 11th session to establish an inter-sessional group to advance the work of the OEWGA. This group should be composed of experts from member states, civil society organizations, and national human rights institutions, with the involvement of the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons as well as other relevant experts among the UN human rights mechanisms and special procedures mandate holders. This group should be tasked to commence the drafting of the main normative elements of an international legal instrument during the inter-sessional period.

 

We believe that the OEWGA will greatly benefit from commencing the drafting of a proposed binding instrument without delay in an open and inclusive platform that places the participation of older persons, their knowledge, expertise and experiences at the centre of discussions.

 

The 12th session of OEWGA presents the Bureau with opportunities to take concrete steps. To advance a critical discussion of the adequacy of the normative framework of the international human rights system and its implementation mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons, the Bureau should include in the agenda of the 12th session a substantive discussion of the OHCHR’s analytical paper. Also, in moving forward, the Bureau should present a proposal containing a program and the modalities for the drafting of a new instrument to start no later than six months after 12th session of OEWGA.

 

We call on the Bureau to take up these recommendations and urge Member States, particularly the members of the Group of Friends of Older Persons, to engage actively in with the process to bring about these outcomes.

 

It has been a decade since the OEWGA commenced its work. The need to fulfill the OEWGA’s mandate has never been more urgent if we want to build the just and equal world we need for older persons today and for all generations to come.

 

We submit this open letter to the Bureau and to Member States of the UN as an expression of our steadfast commitment to assist in the fulfillment of OEWGA’s mandate. In this inter-sessional period leading to the 12th session of OEWGA, we will continue to seek and build opportunities for formal and informal spaces for constructive discourse, including following up on these recommendations and call to action.

 

 

Signatories

(by country or country of HQ)

 

Albania

1.    ASAG-Albanian Society for All Ages

 

Argentina

2.    INPEA – Argentina

 

Australia

3.    Advocare Incorporated

4.    Capacity Australia

5.    Community Legal Centres Australia

6.    Elder Abuse Action Australia

7.    International Longevity Centre Australia

8.    LGBTIQ+ Health Australia

9.    National Older Women's Network Inc.

10.  NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing

11.  Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

12.  Seniors Rights Service

13.  The Senior Agenda Inc.

 

Bangladesh

 

14.  HelpAge International

15.  Resource Integration Center RIC

16.  Sir William Beveridge Foundation

17.  UTTHAN (Unprivileged To The Humanitarian Action Need)

18.  Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)

 

Barbados

19.  Barbados Association of Retired Persons

 

Belarus

20.  Public Union of Belarusian pensioners "Nasha Pakalenne"

 

Belgium

21.  AGE Platform Europe

22.  Entr'âges

23.  S-Plus

24.  Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)

25.  Vlaamse Ouderenraad vzw

 

Belize

26.  HelpAge

 

Brazil

27.  Instituto Qualivida

 

Cameroon

28.  ACAMAGE

29.  Ageing and Health Cameroon Association

30.  Association pour la diffusion des droits humains aux peuples autochtones (Humanitarian Law Agency)

31.  Nehelp Cameroon

 

 

Canada

32.  Active Aging Canada

33.  Age Knowble

34.  Business Launch Solutions

35.  Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry

36.  Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health

37.  Canadian Geriatrics Society

38.  Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA)

39.  Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia FAO

40.  FAO

41.  Fountain of Health Association

42.  Grandmothers Advocacy Network

43.  Health Promotion Canada

44.  Institute of ethno-gerontology-Toronto, Canada

45.  INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION ON AGEING

46.  International Longevity Centre Canada

47.  LoveSong Housing

48.  National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE)

49.  Ontario Association of Councils on Ageing

50.  Pass It On Network

 

Congo

51.  Association Amitié Seniors et Jeunes

 

Costa Rica

52.  AGECO

 

Czech Republic

 

53.  CELLO ILC

 

Dominican Republic

 

54.  ILC-DR

 

Finland

55.  Svenska pensionärsförbundet

 

France

56.  FIAPA

57.  OLD'UP

58.  International Inner Wheel

59.  International Longevity Center- France ( ILC-France)

60.  2Y2R Too Young to Retire - Pass It On Network

 

Georgia

61.  The Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia

 

Germany

62.  BAGSO - Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Seniorenorganisationen

63.  German Institute for Human Rights

64.  HelpAge Deutschland

 

Greece

65.  ANTAMA

66.  50plus Hellas

 

Iceland

67.  U3A Reykjavík

 

India

68.  Ashakiran JHC Hospital

69.  Association for Social Solidarity and Empowerment Training Trust

70.  DadiDada Foundation

71.  Federation of senior citizens’ associations of Tamilnadu

72.  FREMSS ODISHA

73.  Gharonda

74.  Govt KNM Arts and Science College, Kanjiramkulam Trivandrum

75.  GRAVIS

76.  Indian Society of U3As

77.  International Association for Religious Freedom Co-ordination Council for South Asia

78.  International Longevity Centre India

79.  JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSSAHER, Mysore

80.  NIMHANS

81.  Society for Serving Seniors

 

Iraq

82.  Wasit Health Organization

 

Israel

83.  ILC – Israel

84.  The Association of Law in the Service of the Elderly

 

Italy

85.  ANAP - Confartigianato

86.  Anziani e non solo soc. coop. soc.

87.  ATDAL OVER 40

88.  International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)

89.  MOVIMENTO GIOTTO

90.  TAM telefono anziani maltrattati

91.  50&Più

 

Japan

92.  Japan Support Center for Activity and Research for Older Persons

 

Kenya

93.  Ageing Concern Foundation (ACF)

94.  KARIKA AGEING & HIV/ AIDS PROGRAMME

 

Liberia

95.  Liberian Association of Retired Persons

96.  National Senior citizens Organization of Liberia

97.  National Old Folks of Liberia

 

Malaysia

98.  World Silambam Association (WSA)

99.  World Yoga Association

100.                     Silambam Asia

Malta

101.                     University of Malta

 

Mauritius

102.                     Agalega Island Council

103.                     Halley Movement Coalition

104.                     Droits Humains Ocean Indien (Dis-Moi)

105.                     Dis-Moi, Rodrigues

 

Myanmar

106.                     Myanmar National Human Rights Commission

 

Nepal

107.                     Senior Citizens Welfare Association

 

Netherlands

 

108.                     JNF50PLUS Foundation

109.                     Older Women’s Network, the Netherlands

110.                     Stichting Mission Lanka

 

New Zealand

 

111.                     Fantsuam Foundation

112.            New Zealand Society of Diversional and Recreational Therapists Incorporated

 

Nigeria

113.                     agenigeriafoundation

114.                     Alternative Health care Initiative

115.                     Azar Initiative Empowerment for the Less Privileged

116.                     EL-AGED CARE LTD/GTE

117.                     Sound Health Development Initiative(SHIN)

118.                     Universal Peace and Violence Amelioration Centre

 

Philippines

119.                     Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE)

120.                     Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

 

Poland

121.                     Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Poland

122.                     ELELEOS Prawosławny Ośrodek Miłosierdzia

123.                     Fundacja DOM

124.                     Fundacja Ukryte Skrzydła

125.                     Foundation Center for Initiatives for Society

126.                     Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

127.                     KSP2050 Białystok

128.                     Miejska Rada Seniorów w Sejnach

129.                     Miejska Rada Seniorów w Sokółce

130.                     Ogólnopolska Federacja Stowarzyszeń Uniwersytetów III Wieku

131.                     Ośrodek Wspierania Organizacji Pozarządowych

132.                     Podlaska Redakcja Seniora

133.                     Polska 2050

134.            Polski Związek Emerytów Rencistów i Inwalidów w Białymstoku, Koło nr 15 w Choroszczy.

135.            Polski Związek Emerytów, Rencistów i Inwalidów Oddział Okręgowy w Białymstoku

136.                     Rada Seniorów Miasta Augustowa

137.                     Rada Seniorów w Dąbrowie Białostockiej

138.                     Rada Seniorów Gminy Czarna Białostocka

139.                     Rada Seniorów Gminy Podgórzyn

140.                     Rada Seniorów Gminy Supraśl

141.                     Rada Seniorów Reda

142.                     Rada Seniorów przy Marszałku Województwa Podlaskiego

143.                     Stowarzyszenie mali bracia Ubogich

144.                     Stowarzyszenie Podlascy Seniorzy

145.                     Stowarzyszenie Szukamy Polski

146.                     Stowarzyszenie UTW w Augustowie

147.                     Stowarzyszenie Uniwersytet Trzeciego Wieku w Sokółce

148.                     Świętokrzyski Uniwersytet Trzeciego Wieku

149.                     Towarzystwo Inicjatyw Twórczych „ę”

150.                     UMK Toruń

151.                     Warszawska Rada Seniorów

152.                     WRZOS

153.            Wydział Nauk Politycznych i Studiów Międzynarodowych, Uniwersytet Warszawski

154.                     Związek Tatarów Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Oddział Bohoniki

 

Portugal

155.                     APRe!

156.            Sociedade Portuguesa de Psiquiatria e Saúde Mental (Secção de Psiquiatria Geriátrica)

 

Serbia

157.                     The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia

 

Slovakia

158.                     Slovak National Centre for Human Rights

 

Russia

159.                     Primorsky region veteran Fund "Soldier"

160.                     Regional Public Foundation Assistance for the Elderly Dobroe Delo

 

Rwanda

161.                     NSINDAGIZA

 

Slovenia

162.                     Slovenian Federation of Pensioners' Associations

 

Somalia

163.                     African Relief Development Initiative (ARDI)

164.                     Somali HelpAge Association

 

South Africa

 

165.                     International Longevity  Centre - South Africa

 

South Korea

 

166.                     HelpAge Korea

 

Spain

167.                     Confederación Española de Organizaciones de Mayores (CEOMA)

168.                     Fundacion 26 de Diciembre

169.                     Grupo Servicios Sociales Integrados (Grupo SSI)

170.                     HelpAge España

 

Switzerland

 

171.                     Alzheimer Switzerland

172.                     dream plan live it coaching

173.                     FAAG - Fondation pour la formation des aînées et des aînées de Genève

174.            Greycells. Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development

175.                     NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva

176.                     Union for International Cancer Control

177.                     WPA Section of Old Age Psychiatry

 

Tanzania

178.                     CSYM HUDUMA*

 

Thailand

179.                     National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT)

 

Timor -Leste

 

180.                     Provedor de Direitos Humanos e Justiça (Provedor for Human Rights and Justice)

 

Togo

181.                     NGO: ADET

 

Turkey

182.                     Türkiye emekliler derneği

 

Uganda

183.                     Community Restoration Initiative Project

 

Ukraine

184.            D. F. Chebotarev Institute of Gerontology of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine

 

United Kingdom

 

185.                     Alzheimer's Disease International

186.                     HelpAge International

187.                     OLDALONE UK

188.                     Soroptimist International GBI

189.                     Soroptimist International

190.                     Age International

 

 

United States of America

 

191.                     AARP

192.                     Active Aging Consortium Asia Pacific

193.                     Alzheimer Association

194.                     Amer. Assoc of Family and Consumer Sciences

195.                     CHANGING THE NARRATIVE

196.                     Community Networks for Aging in Place Alliance

197.                     Dementia Alliance International

198.                     Duluth Aging Support

199.                     Encore Network

200.                     Global Action on Aging

201.            Global Ageing Network, DBA International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA)

202.                     Gray Panthers

203.                     Human Rights Watch

204.                     International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care

205.                     International Association if Gerontology and Geriatrics

206.                     International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse

207.                     International Society on Aging and Disease

208.                     Long Term Care Community Coalition

209.                     New Aspect Coaching

210.                     PAHO/WHO Association of Former Staff

211.                     Sisters of Charity Federation

212.            The Dayton Foundation Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative UNANIMA International

213.                     United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society

214.                     United Nations Association - Orange County

215.                     Wisdom of Age

216.                     Word of Life International Inc

 

Venezuela

217.                     Convite AC

 

Zambia

218.                     Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias In Zambia -ADDIZ

219.                     Senior Citizens Association of Zambia

220.                     Support To Older People-Zambia

221.                     Zambian Center for Poverty Reduction and Research Limited

 

Zimbabwe

222.                     HelpAge Zimbabwe

223.                     Foundation Activus

 

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