In a momentous development, the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing has recognised that a new UN convention is one way to address gaps in protection of older persons’ rights.

This week, for the first time in its 14-year history, the United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) adopted a substantive decision on the human rights of older persons.

The decision addresses gaps in the international human rights system and presents a number of options for closing them, including a new UN convention on the rights of older persons. A lot of work is still needed for us to secure a UN convention but this decision paves a positive way forward.

Congratulations are due to all members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People around the world for their vital contributions to this process and national advocacy in this recent intersessional period and over the last 14 years of this process.

We welcome that the Chair of the OEWG will be presenting the agreed recommendations in the decision to the 78th session of the General Assembly, which concludes in September 2024.

The GAROP Steering Group in consultation with civil society and national human rights institutes (NHRIs) present at the 14th session gave the following key messages to Member States:

  • As for the way forward, any further action must include the full, effective, and meaningful participation of older persons, their representative organisations, civil society, and national human rights institutions.
  • Specifically, the General Assembly should request the Human Rights Council to establish an intergovernmental working group to draft a comprehensive international legally binding instrument (UN convention) on the human rights of older persons without further delay.

As we move into this new exciting phase of advocacy for a UN convention, as members of the Global Alliance we have a crucial role to play in campaigning to mobilise the public and the media around older persons’ rights, get governments’ support for the above actions, and build more political support for a UN convention. We can continue to build on all of our collective work to date to progress as a matter of urgency.

[The decision is available here (and in other languages here), although please note that we are waiting for an updated version to be published that includes the oral amendments].