On 13th March, GAROP held the 6th in its series of webinars organised in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing. This webinar focused on the 10th session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) to be held in New York between 15th-18th April and how NGOs can engage at national level in the run-up to the session as well as practical guidance of those planning to attend the session in New York.  Amal Abou Rafeh and Rio Hada joined the webinar as panellists to share updates about the process and their insights on the written submissions received from all stakeholders. They answered a number of questions from participants.

Click here to listen to a full recording of the webinar.

Some of the key points raised in the discussion included:

  • The OEWG is now part of the official UN calendar of events, which means that interpretation services are secured. This has also affected the timing of the session this year and this may result in greater participation by Member States.
  • The OEWG bureau now comprises Argentina (Chair); Slovenia; Namibia; Qatar; Portugal.
  • New NGO accreditation applications have been approved. Almost half of new applications were from African NGOs. Newly accredited NGOs should be able to gain access to the UN building as soon as their participation is formally approved in the main session.
  • This time the Chair shared guiding questions for the normative inputs as well. The number of written submissions on normative elements has quadrupled this year. There were more contributions this time for developing countries. All submissions have been made available on the official website.
  • UNDESA and OHCHR are drafting two analytical documents on the substantive inputs on the two new focus areas. A discussion paper is also being prepared based on possible normative elements for the two focus areas discussed in OEWG9.
  • NGOs will have opportunities to make statements throughout the session. Those planning to make oral statements are advised to make six copies to share with interpreters and if participating in the interactive discussions speak slowly and clearly to ensure interpreters can follow. Coordinated and consistent NGO messaging is important and can be more persuasive.
  • Both Amal and Rio raised a number of issues that had come through in the written submissions on the topics of education and lifelong learning and also social protection and social security.
  • NGOs play an important role in bringing the voices of older persons and the realities on the ground into the discussions in the session.  They can provide further insight into how laws and policies are being implemented in their countries.
  • It is important to expand the number of countries engaging in the process and engage with the experts in the capital as well as the missions in New York and discussions in Geneva. NGOs can play a key role in encouraging this. More collaboration between NGOs and NHRIs is important at national and regional levels in organising intersessional events and discussions.
  • For most NGOs, access to the UN building before 9am to attend the morning briefings will only be possible with the approval of the UN security department. (Please note that colleagues from the NGO Committee on Ageing – New York are in contact with security services about arranging this).
  • The Africa group of Member States plays an important part in human rights discussions in Geneva. Given the size of this group, it has the potential to be very influential in the OEWG process.