On 6th September, GAROP held a webinar in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing to discuss the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) and the move towards a new UN convention.  The webinar was moderated by Ken Bluestone (Co-chair of GAROP) and the panellists were Dr Emem Omokaro (Dave Omokaro Foundation) and Bill Mitchell (National Association of Community Legal Centres).

You can listen to a recording of the full webinar here.

In reflecting on the outcomes of the most recent eighth OEWG session in July 2017, the following points were raised:

  • The work of the OEWG is building on many years of discussions around instruments and frameworks on older people’s rights in the UN and at regional levels. For more information about this, see this paper by Bill Mitchell.
  • Since the seventh OEWG session, a clear methodology has emerged for how the sessions will be approached. See this diagram provided by Bill for a summary.
  • The eighth OEWG session had a different format with a more interactive and substantive discussion on the two areas of rights (Neglect, violence and abuse and Equality and non-discrimination) and more focus on what these rights would look like in a convention. This development and shift in focus is encouraging.
  • NGOs have an important role to play at national level in working to strengthen Member States’ participation in the OEWG sessions and building their support for a new convention.
  • It is also important to engage with the Member States’ UN missions in New York as well as the decision-makers in the capitals. Representatives from the Ministries in capitals have more flexibility to engage in an interactive dialogue rather than reading prepared statements.
  • National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) participated formally for the first time in the eighth OEWG session and this is a positive development.

Drawing on their own experiences the panellists suggested the following actions for NGOs to take at national level to engage in the OEWG process:

  • Research your government’s position and understand the reasons for this in order to be better equipped to counter their arguments if necessary. This includes their statements in the formal OEWG sessions and any other public statements they have made or positions they have aligned to.
  • Avoid getting trapped in a ‘binary’ conversation about whether we need a convention or not and focus on discussions about the content.
  • Build national capacity and develop a dialogue on older people’s rights and a new convention that includes the voices and stories of older people themselves.
  • Look at the focus areas for the ninth session and consider how a new UN convention could make a difference in these areas in your country.
  • Encourage your government to make submissions on the focus areas for the ninth OEWG session and hold them accountable for their statements.
  • Work with the NHRI in your country to benefit from their expertise and data and build a common and strategic narrative on older people’s rights.
  • Make use of GAROP materials and resources to support your national advocacy and share your suggestions and feedback for future discussions.

Check the calendar on the GAROP website and follow us on Twitter for information about future webinars.