Our representative in Geneva, Silvia Perel-Levin, chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva met with Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 1st April 2019.

On 10 December 2018, Silvia sent a letter, as Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing in Geneva, to the High Commissioner (HC) congratulating her on her new position. She sent the letter on the Human Rights Day that celebrated 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressing how the NGO Committee together with civil society around the world contributed to the OHCHR campaign “Stand Up 4 Human Rights” by marking the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October with the theme “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions” and endorsing the AGE Platform campaign against Ageism.

She stressed how age-based discrimination could not be tolerated anymore and requested a meeting to discuss how civil society could enhance cooperation with her and her office to better uphold the rights of older persons.

Silvia was invited to a 30- minutes meeting with the High Commissioner in her office on 1st April 2019. The delegation consisted of Bridget Sleap, HelpAge International; Xenia Scheil-Adlung, International Federation on Ageing; Claudia Mahler, German National Human Rights Institute; Valerie Bichelmeier, Make Mothers Matter (MMM) and treasurer of the NGO CoA and our representative of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance as Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing and member of the Steering Committee of the Global Alliance on the rights of Older People (GAROP).

The meeting
The delegation requested the HC to include a true life-course perspective in her work and to publicly express her support for a new convention on the rights of older persons. Her support and that of her office are essential to delivering the concrete outcomes necessary to change the lives of older women and men who are denied their rights and subjected to ageism and discrimination.

This support can be provided in the following ways:

  1. Raising the visibility of the rights of older persons in the speeches and reports of the HC.
  2. Supporting the call for a new international instrument on the rights of older persons.
  3. Participation of the HC in the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) sessions, intersessional events, and other meetings on the rights of older persons organized by multiple stakeholders, including Civil Society.
  4. Including the rights of older persons in the work of the OHCHR’s regional and field offices.
  5. Supporting the work and renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.

The discussion was very friendly and covered a range of topics such as discrimination, data, social protection, long-term care, older women’s particular vulnerability to poverty and human rights defenders. They also discussed the Member States positions regarding a new legally binding instrument. The HC believed that the resistance was not of substance but was related to the overburdened and criticized treaty bodies. It was proposed that this was a moment of opportunity for OHCHR and all Stakeholders to look for creative ways to establish a new treaty that truly works. This could be part of her legacy.

Silvia reminded the HC of the upcoming opportunities for promoting the rights of older persons, notably the panel on capacity building around the human rights of older persons to take place at the 41st session of the HRC, the report of the Independent Expert at the 42nd session and the resolution calling for the renewal of the mandate.

The HC committed to support civil society and actively promote the rights of older persons. She stressed the importance of raising the intersections and multiplicity of discriminations. She recorded a video statement to open the session of the OEWGA in NY on 15 April.

The meeting lasted 45-50 minutes.


After a successful first edition in 2019, almost one hundred participants (ranging from 50 to 74 years) started on 14 January 2021 with the free learning program Silver Starters, which was developed by Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing and Aegon. In 12 weeks, the participants will lay the foundation for converting their idea into their own company through online learning and coaching.

On the last day of 2020, the 300th story milestone was accomplished and published on Wij & corona (translated into Us & corona). On this Dutch story platform experiences of older people during these trying corona times are shared. With this we give the voice of seniors a stage and support and inspire each other! For example, Willem (71) tells how he tries to stay fit at home and Maarten (77), who is a heart patient and must be extra careful.

This year we have been celebrating our 30th anniversary.