This week (14-16 July) UN members states are meeting in New York to discuss the rights of older people.
The Open Ended Working Group on Ageing is the UN process where the need for a new international convention on the rights of older people is being discussed. This is their sixth meeting. The first one took place in 2011.
With numbers of older people rising rapidly both here in Ireland and globally we in Age Action think that a new international convention on the rights of older people is the most effective way to ensure that all people can enjoy their human rights in older age on an equal basis with others.
Currently older people’s rights are invisible in the international human rights system.
While many international human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, are universal by nature, older people are rarely mentioned specifically, either in the treaties themselves or by the committees who monitor compliance.
In addition only four out of more than 38,000 recommendations in the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review have specifically addressed discrimination against older people.
A new convention could change this.
This week in New York, those governments supporting the convention will outline exactly what they want to see and what rights need to be protected, such as the right to long-term support for independent living and the right to freedom from violence and abuse.
Unfortunately, Ireland is not one of these governments. While they have been broadly supportive of the process and a wider discussion on the rights of older people, they do not support a Convention for older people.
While it is important that Ireland continues to support the UN process, we believe older people in Ireland deserve better from their government.
They deserve a government that takes them seriously and supports a new convention to protect their human rights on a par with others.