Wednesday, 14 September 2016 – 16h30-18h00.
United Nations Human Rights Council 33rd session (13-30 September 2016)
Side-Event: On human rights of older persons: imperatives & desiderata
Geneva, Palais des Nations, Conference Room XXIII
By 2050, there will be more older persons than children under 15 worldwide. This unprecedented demographic shift has far-reaching implications for society at all levels. As the world population continues to age, notably the human rights dimension of ageing becomes an ever-growing concern.
The reports of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons attest that older persons face a number of actual as well as legal and policy challenges in the enjoyment of their human rights. It is therefore necessary that ageing is looked at consistently through the human rights lens. Consequently, assessments, evaluations and monitoring of the human rights situation of older persons need to take into consideration the full set of human rights, from economic, social and cultural rights to civil and political rights.
By virtue of the establishment of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, the Human Rights Council in September 2013 filled a human rights protection gap. This heralded a long overdue change from the predominant economic and development perspective to ageing to the imperative of a human rights-based approach that views older persons as rights-holder rather than beneficiaries. It was also the beginning of a Geneva-based process and gave the initial impulse for the launching of the Geneva Group of Friends of the human rights of older persons (GoF-HROP) by Argentina and Slovenia on Wednesday, 8 June 2016. The GoF-HROP provides a forum to exchange information on initiatives, events and best practices concerning the rights of older persons and aims at furthering the discussions at the level of the UN human rights machinery and Human Rights Council in pursuing rights-based solutions.
States are under the obligation to ensure that older persons can enjoy the full spectrum of their human rights and age with dignity. Yet, the debate on ageing has for long turned around the identification of gaps in the international framework and in implementation without leading to tangible improvements for older persons in the enjoyment of their human rights. As existing mechanisms designed to guarantee the full exercise of human rights of older persons have flaws, a variety of proposals are on the table to address shortages and achieve the long required desideratum, including a new instrument, a dedicated convention or an optional protocol to an existing convention, to provide remedy and assist states in protecting the human rights of older persons. Addressing existing gaps at the global level will require to take the debate to another level taking into account the findings of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in her comprehensive report to the Human Rights Council.
Building on the cross-regional consensus about the need to strengthen the human rights protection of older persons, this side event seeks to discuss how existing gaps at the global level can best be addressed and how States could step-up their efforts in determining the best way forward.