• Our work campaigning for a new United Nations (UN) convention on the rights of older people recently took an exciting turn with the adoption of a decision (A/AC.278/2023/L.1/Rev.1) on 6th April 2023 by the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) of the United Nations at its 13th
  • The decision was adopted by consensus without any voting required. This is an important political step forward for the OEWG process and will lead to some more detailed work between the 13th and 14th OEWG sessions.

Why is this decision important?

  • The decision paves the way for intersessional work to take place before the 14th OEWG session that could facilitate formal agreement among Member States about the gaps in the international human rights framework with respect to older people’s rights.
  • This intersessional work can help to build a greater consensus among Member States that a UN convention is the best way to address these gaps.
  • The decision could accelerate progress in the OEWG process enabling it to fulfil its mandate as referenced in General Assembly resolution 65/182 (para. 28).

How will older people and civil society be involved?

  • The co-facilitators (Brazil and Portugal) will conduct open, transparent and inclusive informal intergovernmental meetings with all Member States between the 13th and 14th sessions of the OEWG. They must also collaborate with national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations and the UN Independent Expert.
  • The GAROP Steering Group has written to the Chair of the OEWG and will also request a meeting with the co-facilitators. The letter emphasises the importance of having clear contact points for the co-facilitators and a published timetable to enable us to prepare to input. It calls for the voices and lived experiences of older people to underpin the intersessional work from the outset in order for it to be legitimate. Finally, the letter explains that GAROP is well-positioned as a platform to support the intersessional work and facilitate the participation of civil society.

Next steps

  • GAROP is planning to:
    1. Organise member meetings on 9th and 11th May where we can discuss proposals for how we organise to participate and contribute to this process.
    2. Share template letters/emails with members to support further communication with governments as the details of the process become clearer.
    3. Keep its website up-to-date with information about the intersessional process for members and a wider audience of NGOs and stakeholders to access.

Further background information

Where has the decision come from? 

  • The decision was developed by an informal cross-regional core group consisting of the following Member States: Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Italy, Montenegro, Philippines, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Türkiye, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay.
  • The core group was established following a proposal made by Argentina at the 12th OEWG session with the main objective of preparing the draft decision to be submitted for consideration of the OEWG in its 13th session.
  • As highlighted in the GAROP joint statement to the 13th session of OEWG, civil society was not included in the drafting of the decision.  NHRIs and NGOs were briefed on 3 March 2023 after the draft decision was finalized for circulation to all Member States.
  • The decision was further revised by Member States and was adopted by consensus at the 13th session (https://undocs.org/A/AC.278/2023/L.1/Rev.1*). It should be noted that prior to the 13th session GAROP had organised a big public campaign moment at the Age With Rights Global Rally from 27th February to 5th March 2023 and a coordinated last-minute push by our members and other stakeholders to urge governments to support the draft decision.

What does the draft decision say?  

  • The decision mainly outlines core objectives. It requests that the co-facilitators conduct open, transparent and inclusive informal intergovernmental meetings before the 14th OEWG session and to collaborate with different stakeholders.
  • It also requests the co-facilitators to submit proposed intergovernmental negotiated recommendations to be considered at the 14th OEWG session regarding the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and possible gaps, and options on how best to address them. This could be an opportunity to build further agreement that a UN convention is the best way to address the gaps identified.

What does this mean for a UN convention? 

  • This is a modest but concrete step forward in the OEWG process and could lead to an agreement by Member States in the 14th OEWG session to draft a new UN convention and move the process into a new phase.

What is meant by ‘gaps’ in the international human rights framework?