Human Rights Law


Explicit references to older people in human rights law

There are numerous obligations vis a vis older people which are implicit in general human rights law but explicit attention to older people is rare. Specific provisions, when they do occur, are confined to a limited range of rights and are not consistent across either international or regional instruments.


International Human Rights Framework Article Provision
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) 25 The right of everyone to security in old age
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) 11.1.e The equal right of women to social security, including in old age
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990) 1.1 and 7 Prohibits discrimination based on age
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008) 13.1 Recognises the need for age-appropriate accommodations to ensure disabled people’s  access to justice
16.2 Age-sensitive measures to prevent abuse
16.4 Age-sensitive recovery and rehabilitation
23.1.b Age-appropriate information on reproductive health
25b Provide services to minimise and prevent further disabilities among older people
28.2.b Ensure older people with disabilities’ access to social protection and poverty reduction
Regional Human Rights Framework
American Convention on Human Rights (1969) 4.5 Prohibits capital punishment for people under 18 or over 70 years of age
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights “Protocol San Salvador” (1988) 9.1 The right to social security in old age
17 Special protection (facilities, food and medical care for those that cannot provide for themselves, work programmes, establishing social organisations) in old age
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981) 18.4 Provides older people with the right to special measures of protection in keeping with their physical or moral needs
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) 22b Provides for special protection for older women (Article 22a) and their right to freedom from violence and abuse
Arab Charter on Human Rights (1997) 38 Provides for outstanding care and special protection for the aged.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000) 21.1 Prohibits discrimination based on age
25 Respects the rights of older people to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life
34.1 Respects entitlement to social security in old age