ILC GA leads and participates in high-level discussions on the human rights of older persons at the 16th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), at the UN in Geneva.

Two technical briefings on the human rights of older persons were held at the CRPD last month. The main target audience of the technical briefings were the members of the CRPD, but the events were also open to the public.

1) Friday, 19 August 2016: The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the UN Treaty Bodies

This briefing was organised by the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance (ILC GA) and the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva, with the support of Age International as a contribution to the substantial discussions building up to the upcoming 33rd session of the Human Rights Council (13-30 September 2016) in Geneva and the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on Ageing in New York (12-15 December 2016).

Presenting to the members of the CRPD committee, representatives from Member States, UN and NGOs, the briefing focused on the current state of the OEWG, the main arguments in favour of and against a Convention on the rights of older persons, what specific rights such an instrument might include, and what are the distinctions and intersections with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The point was strongly made about the existing protection gap and the urgency to move from debate to action.

The event was moderated by Silvia Perel-Levin, ILC GA representative in Geneva and Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva. Speakers were Klemen Ponikvar, from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to the UN in Geneva and Nena Georgantzi from AGE Platform Europe. 
Some key points that members of the Committee raised during the discussion:

  • It is a timely issue as older persons with disabilities have not been covered enough by CRPD.
  • A request that civil society organisations provide the Committee with short briefs in relation to the specific countries that are being examined or under discussion by the Committee. This will assist the Committee in asking specific questions about older people with disabilities to reporting governments.
  • Aware that CRPD does not cover all inequalities experienced by older persons, a call was made to make sure that “we do not undermine one right by giving another”. Careful attention must be paid to ensure that a focus on the rights of older persons do not undermine the achievements of the disability movement.
  • The importance of lifelong learning and technology to maintain autonomy.

2) Thursday, 25 August 2016: Access to CRPD by persons with Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and Dementia Alliance International (DAI) organised this briefing. Executive Director of ADI, Marc Wortman, moderated the event and panelists were Glen Rees, Chairman of ADI and Peter Mittler, Human Rights Advisor for DAI.

Strong statements such as “Dementia receives the worst care in the developed world” quoting a study by OECD, highlighted the fact that high-income countries have badly neglected people with dementia and that discrimination against older persons with dementia is a universal problem.

The CRPD Committee was called on to include dementia in the List of Issues, General Comments and Thematic Briefings of the CRPD and to monitor the extent to which persons living with dementia are included in the implementation of the Convention by Member States.

CRPD members agreed with the importance of including people with dementia in their discussions and made the connections with the briefing on older persons the previous week. Comments and questions by CRPD members included:

  • “If you see yourself in article 1, then you are included in CRPD. No need to ask others to include you”.
  • The importance to navigate the possible conflicts between the medicalization of the issue and a human rights approach.
  • The importance of new technologies in all social, clinical and other services.
  • The importance to include family and caregivers support in the discussions.
  • How many countries have human rights-based laws on older persons with dementia?

3) The 33rd session of the Human Rights Council takes place 13-30 September. Older Persons are on the agenda. Here are some highlights:

  • On Wednesday 14 September 12:00-15:00, Ms Rosa Kornfeld Matte, Independent Expert on the rights of older persons presents her report to the Human Rights Council. The report can be found here with and addendum on her recent country visit to Costa Rica. The session, and all the HRC can be followed online.
  • The Geneva Group of Friends of Older Persons organises an event on human rights of older persons: imperatives & desiderata with the participation of the Independent Expert. ILC GA representative in Geneva will moderate the session.
  • Two photo exhibitions on older persons will be features at the UN in Geneva during the HRC organized by Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Mission of Argentina.
  • A side event Respecting, Protecting, and Fulfilling the Rights of Older Refugees is organized by the members of the NGO Committee on Ageing.
  • Argentina and Brazil are proposing a resolution on the rights of older persons, which will include the renewal of the mandate of the IE.


Friday, 19 August 2016: The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing and the UN Treaty Bodies
Left to right (front row): Nena Georgantzi (Age Platform Europe), Silvia Perel-Levin (ILC GA representative in Geneva and Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva), Klemen Ponikvar (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to the UN in Geneva)
. Photography by Nigel Kingston


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