Joint statement of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) for the 12th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing

This statement is made on behalf of the 397 member organizations of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People.

Since the disappointing levels of participation and lack of concrete outcomes at the 11th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, civil society has advocated tirelessly for the protection of the rights of older persons. On 3 March, a range of campaign activities as part of the Age With Rights Global Rally reached more than 1.2 million people in all regions of the world, calling on Governments to engage with the Working Group and to support a UN convention.  As civil society together with National Human Rights Institutions, we have actively engaged with this Working Group, year after year. We will continue to show that commitment during this year’s session.

We welcome the new reports of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, which provide further evidence on the need for a convention. We also welcome the adoption by the Human Rights Council of the first ever substantive Resolution (48/3) on ageism and age discrimination, and the subsequent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on normative standards and obligations under international law, which once again highlights the normative gaps and the need for a convention. We look forward to working constructively with all stakeholders on recommendations to address these gaps during the forthcoming multi-stakeholder meeting in Geneva. These positive developments clearly demonstrate a momentum that we all must support, sustain and build on, without delay.

The continued lack of engagement by Member States in this Working Group, however, is completely unacceptable. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed grave violations of older people’s rights, ageist rhetoric and discriminatory practices. In Ukraine, as in other armed conflicts around the world, older people who are unable to flee the fighting, internally displaced or refugees are at heightened risk of violations of the laws of war.

Despite this, the Working Group continues to fail to fulfil its mandate. No concrete outcomes have been achieved, nor any formal decisions made. It is ten years since the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 67/139, requesting the Working Group to present to it “at the earliest possible date”, a proposal containing the main elements of an international legal instrument. The position of those few Member States that continue to block progress is indefensible, and those that wish to live up to their commitment must find ways to move forward now.

Now is the time for action and concrete outcomes. Older people have waited and campaigned for over a decade, they cannot wait any longer.

As members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People, we call upon Member States to fulfil the mandate of this Working Group and start drafting a UN convention on the rights of older persons now.

Click here to download the statement as a Word document:  English