The third session of the UN Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on Ageing met in New York, August 21-25, 2012. The session recommended the continuation of the group’s mandate.

The OEWG session focused on the discussion of the existing international framework on the human rights of older persons, and identification of existing gaps at international level. All 193 Member States were invited, and approximately one third attended the session. The participants also included many representatives of civil society from every region and experts in a variety of disciplines.  In total, approximately 200 NGOs registered for the event.

The four-day OEWG session consisted of statements from Member States, civil society, and panel discussion of experts. Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons, of which the ILC Global Alliance is a member, was one of the civil society organizations to give a testimony. Expert panels discussed  various topics including “age discrimination,” “Autonomy, Independent Living and Healthcare,” Life in Dignity, Social Security and Access to Resources,” “Violence and Abuse against Older People,’ and Access to Justice for Older People.” The session provided a valuable opportunity to examine how existing human rights mechanisms protect (or fail to protect) older people’s rights.

On the last day of the session, Member States delivered closing statements. All expressed the desire for the continuation of the OEWG, though their recommendations for the future goals of the session differed. At the time of writing, it appears likely that there will be a fourth OEWG in 2013. This matter will be negotiated during the fall of 2012  in the General Assembly Third Committee.

Lia Daichman, representative of the ILC Global Alliance, commented on the absence of  consensus among Member States about the need for a new convention on the rights of older persons, “I sense a positive shift regarding awareness towards a Convention for older people among delegations from some countries, especially those of Africa and Asia.”

Recognizing the critical importance of continued pressure from civil society, Bridget Sleap of HelpAge commented: “Much more needs to be done between now and the next OEWG to build on the growing support, especially from African and Asian Member States.

Masako Osako



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