Joint oral statement of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) for the 11th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, 29th March – 1st April 2021

18 March 2021

This statement is made on behalf of the 394 member organizations of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People.

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic at all levels of governance have exposed significant gaps and systemic failures in the protection of the human rights of older persons. Across every region, older persons have been denied their human rights, discriminated against on the basis of their age and subjected to ageist hate speech, stigmatization, prejudice, abuse and neglect.

One hundred and forty-six Member States recognised these violations and committed to respecting the rights of older persons by supporting[1] the UN Secretary General’s Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older persons[2]. This commitment by 75 per cent of all UN Member States means that the Open-ended Working Group can no longer ignore its responsibility to fulfil the mandate given to it by the UN General Assembly to develop proposals for the main elements of an international legal instrument.[3]

Since the mandate was issued, a number of Member States have blocked progress or stayed silent on efforts to better protect the rights of older persons in a new legal instrument. The discrimination and denial of older persons’ rights evident in responses to the pandemic have reaffirmed the fallacy of their arguments that existing human rights instruments are adequate and there are no protection gaps to fill.

To continue to delay progress is indefensible in the face of the preventable deaths, restrictions of rights, discrimination, ageism and neglect that older persons have been subjected to during this pandemic.

We, the members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People, call on Member States at this Open-ended Working Group to fulfill their mandate and immediately start drafting a UN convention on the rights of older persons. A UN convention would provide a guide on how to fully respect the rights of all older persons in all their diversity and trigger the changes in law, policy and practice to make this happen.

Further inaction by Member States in face of the evidence of the need for a convention is inexcusable.

Download a Word version of this oral statement here

Click here to read GAROP’s Joint Written Statement.

[1] Updated 20 May 2020

[2] May 2020

[3] A/67/139