We need a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons!

Claudia Mahler, independant German expert on the rights of older people, appointed by UN Human Rights Council and our Boardmember Christa Möller-Metzger in Berlin during a discussion about an UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons

The Federal Working Group of Senior Citizens’ Organisations in Germany, together with hundreds of civil society organisations from all over the world, is calling for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. 

Dr Claudia Mahler, the independent German expert on the rights of older people appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, is also convinced that we absolutely must create the legal conditions to implement the rights of older people. For example, a Convention on the Rights of the Elderly that is really binding. 

In state politics, too, it makes a big difference whether we have binding requirements such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which guarantees accessibility in new construction projects or lowered kerbs, or non-binding concepts such as the Age-friendly Cities and Communities Project of the WHO. A lot of persuasion is always needed to be able to implement something politically. If there was a binding convention that regulated issues such as discrimination, poverty among the elderly, care, violence, many things would be easier. How do we deal, for example, with elderly refugees who come to our country? Or with elderly people who cannot leave their country in war? 

A short agenda of what has happened internationally so far: 

In 1982, the First World Assembly on Ageing was held in Vienna, which led to the adoption of the First Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing. The first comprehensive UN document that provided guidance to member states on their policies on ageing. 

In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1 October as “International Day of Older Persons”.

In 1991, the General Assembly adopted five principles for older people: Independence, Participation, Care, Self-realisation and Dignity. 

In 2002, the second World Assembly was held in Madrid. And the Second World Plan on Ageing was adopted (MIPAA = Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing), which now also included the less developed regions of the world. 

MIPAA should be a guideline and countries should develop regional strategies (RIS = Regional Implementation Strategies) and action plans based on it. 

It is time, we should now make a strong case for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

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