An Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General in response to the release of the ‘Policy brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on older persons’

Prepared by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP)

5th May 2020

Dear Secretary-General,

We congratulate you for your UN Policy Brief ‘The impact of COVID-19 on older persons’ released on 1st May. We appreciate this important focus on older persons and thank you for your valuable leadership in this area.

We welcome the emphasis you place on the human rights and dignity of older persons in all their diversity. The focus on the range of interdependent human rights impacted by this pandemic is crucial, including the right to life, health, autonomy and independence, care and support, palliative care, social security, and freedom from violence, abuse and neglect. We support you in calling on States and all stakeholders to step up our collective efforts and implement the Brief’s recommendations in these areas as a matter of priority.

COVID-19 has exposed the global nature of ageism and the systematic and persistent denial of older persons’ human rights. These challenges are not confined to a single country or region, they are universal and more urgent than ever. We share your view that the absence of an international legally-binding instrument dedicated to the rights of older persons is likely to contribute to some of the failings and human rights violations that we are now witnessing around the world.

We fully support your recommendation to build stronger legal frameworks at national and international levels to protect the human rights of older persons, including by accelerating the efforts of the General Assembly’s working group to develop proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons. We trust that Member States of the UN General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing will now accelerate their efforts to develop proposals for a UN convention on the rights of older persons.

We call on your leadership to ensure that the UN mobilises fully behind your vision of dignity and the protection of the rights of all older persons in response to COVID-19 and beyond. In particular, we ask that you give the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing the full backing and support of the UN to ensure that its crucial work of strengthening the international legal framework with respect to the protection of older persons’ human rights can be achieved.

(Download a PDF version of the Open Letter text here. Contact the GAROP Secretariat on to add your name in support of this letter).

This letter is supported by:

A.C.T. Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS), Australia
Adelina Comas-Herrera (Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, editor of and co-lead of the Strengthening Responses to Dementia in Developing Countries project)
African Relief Development Initiative (ARDI) Somalia
Ageing Nepal
Age International, UK
Age Nigeria
AGE Platform Europe
Age UK
Albanian Society for All Ages (ASAG)
Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias In Zambia-ADDIZ
Alzheimer’s Disease International
Amigos de los Mayores – México
Arjon Foundation, Satkhira, Bangladesh
ASD-Bangladesh (Association for Sustainable Development in Bangladesh)
Association camerounaise pour la prise en charge de la personne agée (ACAMAGE), Cameroon
Association for Social Solidarity and Empowerment Training Trust (Asset), India
Association Nos Années De Vie (ANAVIE), Togo
Australian Association of Gerontology
BAGSO – German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisation
Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (BAAIGM)
Bangladesh Gerontological Association (BGA)
Brahma Kumaris – Rose Belle Branch, Mauritius
Bridget Penhale (University of East Anglia, UK)
CanAge – Canada’s National Seniors Advocacy Organisation
Care Rights, Republic of Korea
Center for Community Advancement and Family Empowerment (CECAFE), Liberia
Centre for Gerontological Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Centre for Holistic Education and Development, Mauritius
Coalition of Caregivers and Advocates for the Elderly in Liberia (COCAEL)
Commonwealth Association for the Ageing (CommonAge), UK
Community Legal Centres Australia
Costa Rican Gerontological Association (AGECO)
Dadidada Foundation, India
Dave Omokaro Foundation, Nigeria
Dementia Advocacy Canada
Dementia Alliance International
Development, Welfare and Research Foundation , India
Dilasha Aviyan  (Console Mission), Nepal
DIS-MOI, Droits Humains – Ocean Indien, Mauritius
DK International Research Foundation, India
Dobroe Delo, Russia
Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA)
Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario, Canada
Elders Club International
FADOQ, Canada
Family Ark Mission, Nigeria
Federation Internationale des Associations des Personnes Agées (FIAPA), Mauritius
Femmes et Education des Adultes (FEDA), Democratic Republic of Congo
Forum for the Rights of the Elderly, Bangladesh
Free Forum for Rights, Nepal
Fundacion Gerontologica de Mendoza (FUNDAGEM), Argentina
Generations United, USA
GERATEC, South Africa
Geriatric Respite Care Foundation Uganda (GRCF-U)
Gharonda Public Charitable Trust, India
Global Ageing Network
Global Rainbow Foundation, Mauritius
Government Services Employees Association, Mauritius
Graceful Ageing Fellowship (GRAF), Nigeria
Grandmothers Advocacy Network, Canada
Great Lakes Ageing Network, Rwanda
Grey Panthers, USA
Halley Movement, Mauritius
HelpAge Deutschland
HelpAge International
HelpAge Italia
HelpAge USA
Human Rights Cell, India
International Association for Religious Freedom- Coordination Council of South Asia
International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG)
International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC)
International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
International Federation of Social Workers
International Inner Wheel
International Longevity Centre Argentina (ILC Argentina)
International Longevity Centre – Australia (ILC Australia)
International Longevity Centre Brazil (ILC Brazil)
International Longevity Centre Canada (ILC Canada)
International Longevity Centre Dominican Republic (ILC-DR)
International Longevity Centre Global Alliance (ILC-GA)
International Longevity Centre-India  (ILC India)
International Longevity Centre Israel (ILC-Israel)
International Longevity Centre South Africa (ILC South Africa)
International Longevity Centre The Netherlands (ILC The Netherlands)
International Medical Crisis Response Alliance (IMCRA)
Josef und Luise Kraft Stiftung, Germany
Juan Carlos Coronado López (Kinesiólogo, Rehabilitación Geriátrica, Especialista en Rehabilitación Vestibular (AAK), Inscripción CCKK de Chile 2039)
Lanka Fundamental Rights Organisation, Sri Lanka
Liberian Associations of Retired Persons
Mauritius Council of Social Services (MACOSS)
Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association (MFPWA)
MOSAPORG, Tanzania
Mouvement Forces Vives Quartier EDC Rose Belle, Mauritius
Naigwe Heritage Elderly Home (NHEH), Uganda
Nagorik Adhikar Sangrakkhan Forum (NASAF), Bangladesh
National Older Women’s Network, Australia
NGO Ardager, Kazakhstan
NGO Amis des Étrangers au Togo: ADET
NGO Committee on Ageing In Geneva
NGO Committee on Ageing In New York
NGO Committee on Ageing In Vienna
NSINDAGIZA Organisation, Rwanda
Oldalone, UK
PROGOTI, Bangladesh
Public Union of Belarusian Pensioners “Nasha Pakalenne”
Rajadighi Community Health Service Society (RCHSS), India
Resource Integration Centre (RIC), Bangladesh
Robin Nelson (a daughter), Ontario Canada
Rwanda Leave No One Behind Network
Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Nepal
Seniors Rights Service, Australia
Silver Inning Foundation, India
Sisters of Charity Federation
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, USA
Soroptimist International
Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland
Sound Health Development Initiative (SHIN), Nigeria
Stakeholder Group on Ageing Africa (SGA Africa)
Taking Care of Retired people Organization in Rwanda (TCR)
The Centre for Elderly Empowerment & Care, Qatar
The Eden Alternative South Africa
The Good Samaritan Social Service Trust (GSSST), Tanzania
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA)
The National Pensioners Federation, Canada
The Pass It On Network
The Senior Agenda, Australia
The Soldier Foundation, Russia
Townsville Community Legal Service, Australia
Uganda Reach the Aged Association
Universidad ISALUD, Argentina
University of Third Age (Mauritius)
URUMURI RW’IZABUKURU ageing platform, Rwanda
Women for Human Rights, Nepal
Word of Life International, Inc
Yayasan Emong Lansia, Indonesia
Youth United in Voluntary Action (YUVA), Mauritius