An Open Letter to the United Nations General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing for the Purpose of Strengthening the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons (OEWGA)

Download a PDF version of this Open Letter with the current full list of signatories as shown below in English
Translated versions of the letter (showing list of signatories at 20th September 2021):  French  |  German  |   Georgian   |  Korean  |  Polish  |  Spanish


As human rights advocates from different backgrounds and regions of the world, we want a world where we can all age with rights, dignity and respect. The OEWGA can help to make this vision a reality by fulfilling its mandate to consider proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons and to present to the UN General Assembly a proposal containing the main elements of such instrument.

Since its creation in 2010, the OEWGA has held 11 working sessions. Throughout these discussions, the OEWGA has seen a wealth of evidence confirming the glaring deficiencies in the international human rights system as it relates to the human rights of older persons. This material has been presented by older persons themselves, experts from the UN system, civil society organizations, academia, governments, and national human rights institutions, who are also calling for the adoption of a convention to address these shortcomings.

The study launched by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the 11th session confirms that the development of more specific norms and standards within a new dedicated international instrument is required to ensure that no older person, regardless of circumstance, is left behind.

Despite this evidence in support of a UN convention and the further impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OEWGA has made little concrete progress towards identifying the elements of a possible new instrument and has not yet fulfilled its mandate in this regard. While there are many Member States which have actively supported a convention, the lack of consensus has prevented clear outcomes from the OEWGA.

While we recognize the importance of consensus and the need to continue to build this in the OEWGA, we also note that 146 States formally supported the Secretary General’s Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and committed to fully promoting and respecting the dignity and rights of older persons. This is a strong foundation from which the OEWGA must now seek to move forward.

A new UN convention would explicitly and unambiguously recognize older persons as rights holders and strengthen our understanding of human rights in older age. It would provide valuable guidance for governments and others to ensure that age discrimination is prohibited in the law, services uphold the dignity of older persons, and attitudes and behaviors towards older persons are respectful.

The OEWGA Bureau, chaired by the Permanent Mission of Argentina since the OEWGA’s first session, is in a pivotal position to drive progress in this work. Thus, we call on the Bureau to take concrete steps to progress the work of the OEWGA in the inter-sessional period between the 11th and 12th sessions of OEWGA and we call on Member States to support the Bureau in taking those steps.

Recommendations for next steps

We support the proposal made by Argentina in the 11th session to establish an intersessional group to advance the work of the OEWGA. This group should be composed of experts from member states, civil society organizations, and national human rights institutions, with the involvement of the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons as well as other relevant experts among the UN human rights mechanisms and special procedures mandate holders. This group should be tasked to commence the drafting of the main normative elements of an international legal instrument during the inter-sessional period.

We believe that the OEWGA will greatly benefit from commencing the drafting of a proposed binding instrument without delay in an open and inclusive platform that places the participation of older persons, their knowledge, expertise and experiences at the centre of discussions.

The 12th session of OEWGA presents the Bureau with opportunities to take concrete steps. To advance a critical discussion of the adequacy of the normative framework of the international human rights system and its implementation mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons, the Bureau should include in the agenda of the 12th session a substantive discussion of the OHCHR’s analytical paper. Also, in moving forward, the Bureau should present a proposal containing a program and the modalities for the drafting of a new instrument to start no later than six months after 12th session of OEWGA.

We call on the Bureau to take up these recommendations and urge Member States, particularly the members of the Group of Friends of Older Persons, to engage actively in with the process to bring about these outcomes.

It has been a decade since the OEWGA commenced its work. The need to fulfill the OEWGA’s mandate has never been more urgent if we want to build the just and equal world we need for older persons today and for all generations to come.

We submit this open letter to the Bureau and to Member States of the UN as an expression of our steadfast commitment to assist in the fulfillment of OEWGA’s mandate. In this inter-sessional period leading to the 12th session of OEWGA, we will continue to seek and build opportunities for formal and informal spaces for constructive discourse, including following up on these recommendations and call to action.


(by country or country of HQ)


  1. Lawyers Union of Afghanistan


  1. ASAG-Albanian Society for All Ages


  1. INPEA – Argentina
  2. ILC – Argentina


  1. Advocare Incorporated
  2. Capacity Australia
  3. Commonwealth Association for the Ageing – CommonAge
  4. Community Legal Centres Australia
  5. Elder Abuse Action Australia
  6. EveryAGE Counts
  7. International Longevity Centre Australia
  8. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia
  9. National Older Women’s Network Inc.
  10. NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing
  11. Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)
  12. Peninsula Advisory Committee for Elders (PACE)
  13. Seniors Rights Service
  14. Senior Women ‘s Advocacy Network – Asia Pacific
  15. SWAN- Asia Pacific
  16. The Benevolent Society
  17. The Senior Agenda Inc.


  1. ASD-Bangladesh (Association for Sustainable Development in Bangladesh)
  2. Forum for the Rights of Elderly, Bangladesh (FREB)
  3. HelpAge International Ba
  4. KOTHOWAIN (Vulnerable Peoples Development Organization)
  5. Nagorik Odhikar Sangrakkhan Forum (NASAF)
  6. Participatory Human Rights Advancement Society
  7. Resource Integration Center RIC
  8. Sir William Beveridge Foundation
  9. UTTHAN (Unprivileged To The Humanitarian Action Need)
  10. Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)


  1. Barbados Association of Retired Persons


  1. Public Union of Belarusian pensioners “Nasha Pakalenne”


  1. ABVV Senioren
  2. AGE Platform Europe
  3. Entr’âges
  4. Finance Watch
  5. GroenPlus
  6. Neos vzw
  7. OKRA, trefpunt 55+
  8. S-Plus
  9. Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities)
  10. Vief vzw
  11. Vlaamse Ouderenraad vzw


  1. HelpAge


  1. Instituto Qualivida
  2. Vitrine100Idade


  1. Tulip Foundation


  1. Alzheimer Comunity Support of Burundi
  2. Human Health Aid Burundi


  2. Ageing and Health Cameroon Association
  3. Association pour la diffusion des droits humains aux peuples autochtones (Humanitarian Law Agency)
  4. Nehelp Cameroon
  5. Positive and Healthy Ageing Association Cameroon


  1. Active Aging Canada
  2. Age Knowble
  3. Business Launch Solutions
  4. Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry
  5. Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health
  6. Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)
  7. Canadian Geriatrics Society
  8. Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA)
  9. Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia FAO
  10. Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario
  11. FAO
  12. Fountain of Health Association
  13. Grandmothers Advocacy Network
  14. Health Promotion Canada
  15. Institute of ethno-gerontology-Toronto, Canada
  17. International Longevity Centre Canada
  18. LoveSong Housing
  19. National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE)
  20. National Pensioners Federation
  21. Near North Palliative Care Network
  22. Ontario Association of Councils on Ageing
  23. Pass It On Network
  24. School of Nursing, Univ of Victoria
  25. Women10 Living Fit Inside Out


  1. Hong Kong Polytechnic University


  1. Association Amitié Seniors et Jeunes

Costa Rica

  1. AGECO


  1. Association for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Elderly People

 Czech Republic


Dominican Republic

  1. ILC-DR


  1. Asia Pacific Forum on Families International


  1. Svenska pensionärsförbundet


  1. FIAPA
  2. OLD’UP
  3. International Inner Wheel
  4. International Longevity Center- France ( ILC-France)
  5. 2Y2R Too Young to Retire – Pass It On Network


  1. Ageing with a Smile Initiative


  1. Source of Hope Foundation


  1. Association Anika
  2. Centre for Training and Consultancy
  3. Coalition Homecare in Georgia
  4. Faculty of Medicine, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
  5. Georgian Association of Social Workers
  6. Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association
  7. Georgian Platform on Care
  8. Hand in hand
  9. IDP Women Association Consent
  10. Mac Georgia
  11. Taoba
  12. The Center of Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG)
  13. The Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia
  14. TSU Georgian National Association for Palliative Care
  15. Young Pedagogues Union


  1. BAGSO – Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Seniorenorganisationen
  2. German Institute for Human Rights
  3. HelpAge Deutschland


  1. 50plus Hellas
  3. GIVMED | Share medicine Share life
  4. People Behind


  1. U3A Reykjavík


  1. Agewell Foundation
  2. Ashakiran JHC Hospital
  3. Association for Social Solidarity and Empowerment Training Trust
  4. DadiDada Foundation
  5. Dignity Foundation
  7. Federation of senior citizens’ associations of Tamilnadu
  9. Gharonda
  10. Govt KNM Arts and Science College, Kanjiramkulam Trivandrum
  11. GRAVIS
  12. Indian Society of U3As
  13. International Association for Religious Freedom Co-ordination Council for South Asia
  14. International Longevity Centre India
  15. JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSSAHER, Mysore
  16. JYESTH Nagarik Sanghatana, Royal College, Mira Road
  18. Peace Rural Development Society
  19. Shehjaar Homes for Senior Citizens
  20. Silver Inning Foundation
  21. Sneha Sandhya Age Care Foundation
  22. Society for Community Organization and Rural Education (SCORE)
  23. Society for Serving Seniors


  1. Wasit Health Organization


  1. ILC – Israel
  2. The Association of Law in the Service of the Elderly


  1. ANAP – Confartigianato
  2. Anziani e non solo soc. coop. soc.
  3. ATDAL OVER 40
  4. Helpage Italia
  5. International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)
  7. TAM telefono anziani maltrattati
  8. 50&Più


  1. Japan Support Center for Activity and Research for Older Persons


  1. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies


  1. Ageing Concern Foundation (ACF)
  3. Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum
  4. MICOP CBO Kenya
  5. OPRANE Kenya


  1. Liberian Association of Retired Persons
  2. National Senior citizens Organization of Liberia
  3. National Old Folks of Liberia
  4. Liberia United to Promote Society Safety and Development


  1. Dis Moi Madagascar


  1. Help the Aged Malawi


  1. World Silambam Association (WSA)
  2. World Yoga Association
  3. Silambam Asia


  1. University of Malta


  1. Agalega Island Council
  2. Halley Movement Coalition
  3. Droits Humains Ocean Indien (Dis-Moi)
  4. Dis-Moi, Rodrigues
  5. Global Rainbow Foundation
  6. Senior citizens council
  7. State and Other Employees Federation


  1. Association Women for the Contemporary Society


  1. Myanmar National Human Rights Commission


  1. Ageing Nepal
  2. Dilasa Abhiyan
  3. Free Forum for Rights
  4. National Senior Citizen Federation
  5. Senior Citizens Welfare Association


  1. JNF50PLUS Foundation
  2. Older Women’s Network, the Netherlands
  3. Stichting Mission Lanka

New Zealand

  1. Fantsuam Foundation
  2. New Zealand Society of Diversional and Recreational Therapists Incorporated


  1. Age Nigeria Foundation
  2. Alternative Health care Initiative
  3. Azar Initiative Empowerment for the Less Privileged
  5. DAGOMO Foundation Nigeria
  6. Sound Health Development Initiative(SHIN)
  7. Universal Peace and Violence Amelioration Centre


  1. New World Hope Organization (NWHO)


  1. Nietos Itinerantes


  1. Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE)
  2. Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
  3. Confederation of Older Persons Associations of the Philippines, Inc. (COPAP)
  4. Seniors sa Panahon ng COVID – SENIORS for SENIORS (SPC-S4S)


  1. Centrum Inicjatyw Lokalnych
  2. Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Poland
  3. ELELEOS Prawosławny Ośrodek Miłosierdzia
  4. Fundacja DOM
  5. Fundacja Ukryte Skrzydła
  6. Foundation Center for Initiatives for Society
  7. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  8. KSP2050 Białystok
  9. Miejska Rada Seniorów w Sejnach
  10. Miejska Rada Seniorów w Sokółce
  11. Ogólnopolska Federacja Stowarzyszeń Uniwersytetów III Wieku
  12. Ośrodek Wspierania Organizacji Pozarządowych
  13. Podlaska Redakcja Seniora
  14. Polska 2050
  15. Polski Związek Emerytów Rencistów i Inwalidów w Białymstoku, Koło nr 15 w Choroszczy.
  16. Polski Związek Emerytów, Rencistów i Inwalidów Oddział Okręgowy w Białymstoku
  17. Rada Seniorów Miasta Augustowa
  18. Rada Seniorów w Dąbrowie Białostockiej
  19. Rada Seniorów Gminy Czarna Białostocka
  20. Rada Seniorów Gminy Podgórzyn
  21. Rada Seniorów Gminy Supraśl
  22. Rada Seniorów Reda
  23. Rada Seniorów przy Marszałku Województwa Podlaskiego
  24. Stowarzyszenie mali bracia Ubogich
  25. Stowarzyszenie Podlascy Seniorzy
  26. Stowarzyszenie Szukamy Polski
  27. Stowarzyszenie UTW w Augustowie
  28. Stowarzyszenie Uniwersytet Trzeciego Wieku w Sokółce
  29. Świętokrzyski Uniwersytet Trzeciego Wieku
  30. Towarzystwo Inicjatyw Twórczych „ę”
  31. UMK Toruń
  32. Warszawska Rada Seniorów
  33. WRZOS
  34. Wydział Nauk Politycznych i Studiów Międzynarodowych, Uniwersytet Warszawski
  35. Związek Tatarów Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Oddział Bohoniki


  1. Adult development and aging research team University of Minho
  2. APRe!
  4. Sociedade Portuguesa de Psiquiatria e Saúde Mental (Secção de Psiquiatria Geriátrica)
  5. University of Coimbra


  1. Romanian Institute for Human Rights


  1. Primorsky region veteran Fund “Soldier”
  2. Regional Public Foundation Assistance for the Elderly Dobroe Delo




  1. Gerontological Society of Serbia
  2. HumanaS Network
  3. Red Cross of Serbia
  4. Redefinisanje
  5. The Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia


  1. Slovak National Centre for Human Rights


  1. Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations


  1. African Relief Development Initiative (ARDI)
  2. Somali HelpAge Association

South Africa

  1. International Longevity Centre – South Africa
  2. Samson Institute for Ageing Research

South Korea

  1. ASEM Global Ageing Center
  2. HelpAge Korea


  1. Asociación Ciceron
  2. Confederación Española de Organizaciones de Mayores (CEOMA)
  3. Fundacion 26 de Diciembre
  4. Grupo Servicios Sociales Integrados (Grupo SSI)
  5. HelpAge España
  6. International Sociological Association


  1. PRO Global/Pensioners without Borders


  1. Alzheimer Switzerland
  2. dream plan live it coaching
  3. FAAG – Fondation pour la formation des aînées et des aînées de Genève
  4. Association of Former International Civil Servants for Development
  5. NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva
  6. Union for International Cancer Control
  7. WPA Section of Old Age Psychiatry


  3. The Goodsamatan Social Services Trust


  1. National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT)

Timor -Leste

  1. Provedor de Direitos Humanos e Justiça (Provedor for Human Rights and Justice)


  1. NGO: ADET


  1. Türkiye emekliler derneği
  2. Women’s Coalition -Turkey (Kadin Koalisyonu)


  1. Community Restoration Initiative Project
  2. Semuto Older Persons Development Association (SOPEDA)
  3. URAA


  1. F. Chebotarev Institute of Gerontology of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine

United Kingdom

  1. Age International
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease International
  3. HelpAge International
  4. COM
  6. Older Women’s Network, Europe
  7. Prama Foundation
  8. Soroptimist International GBI
  9. Soroptimist International

United States of America

  1. AARP
  2. Active Aging Consortium Asia Pacific
  3. Alzheimer Association
  4. Assoc of Family and Consumer Sciences
  5. AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
  7. Community Networks for Aging in Place Alliance
  8. Dementia Alliance International
  9. Duluth Aging Support
  10. Encore Network
  11. Global Action on Aging
  12. Global Ageing Network, DBA International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA)
  13. Global Social Service Workforce Alliance
  14. Gray Panthers
  15. Human Rights Watch
  16. International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care
  17. International Association if Gerontology and Geriatrics
  18. International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
  19. International Society on Aging and Disease
  20. Long Term Care Community Coalition
  21. National Association of State Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs (NASOP)
  22. National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
  23. New Aspect Coaching
  24. PAHO/WHO Association of Former Staff
  25. Sanctuary for Longevity Project
  26. Seniors Circle of the People’s Party
  27. Sisters of Charity Federation
  28. The Dayton Foundation Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative UNANIMA International
  29. United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society
  30. United Nations Association – Orange County
  31. Wisdom of Age
  32. Word of Life International Inc


  1. Centro de Servicio Social El Pastoreo
  3. REDAM – Cerro Largo


  1. Convite AC


  1. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias In Zambia -ADDIZ
  2. Ricard Banda Foundation
  3. Senior Citizens Association of Zambia
  4. Support To Older People-Zambia
  5. Zambian Center for Poverty Reduction and Research Limited


  1. HelpAge Zimbabwe
  2. Foundation Activus