GAROP held its latest webinar on 22nd January focusing on national advocacy by NGOs in the crucial few weeks leading up to the 11th Open-ended Working Group on Ageing session. The webinar was part of a series of webinars organised with the support of the International Federation on Ageing. The webinar was moderated by Nena Georgantzi of AGE Platform Europe and member of the GAROP Steering Group. The speakers included Denise Hauser of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Elie Mugaboweshima of NSINDAGIZA Organisation in Rwanda, and Heidrun Mollenkopf of BAGSO in Germany.

You can listen to a recording of the webinar here.

Some of the key points emerging from the presentations and the question and answer session that followed included:

  • National advocacy by NGOs all year round and in the few weeks ahead of the session is fundamental in moving the process forward. Becoming accredited to the OEWG process is important for more active participation in the process directly.
  • It is important to engage with the responsible Ministries at national level to understand the government’s position and to find out how they are preparing for the next session. If possible, it is important to push for experts from Ministries in the capital to attend the session in New York to contribute to the discussions there.
  • Multi-stakeholder events involving NGOs, governments, National Human Rights Institutions, academics and other experts are an excellent way of stimulating dialogue and learning about older people’s rights. They can be held just before each session to support preparation and can also take the form of debriefing sessions just after the session to raise awareness of the discussions that have happened there.
  • It is helpful for NGOs to work together in coalition at national level in order to boost their impact and voice.
  • The focus areas of rights to be discussed at the upcoming session can provide a useful hook for engaging governments in discussions and other campaigns, around the International Day of Older Persons, for example. It can also help to link your advocacy messaging to your government’s own priorities and to plan well in advance.
  • Regional instruments such as those in the Americas and African region are also key and can support the development of content for an international instrument.
  •  The discussions on normative elements in the sessions are an opportunity for NGOs to put forward proposals for what they would like to see in a new UN convention. NGOs play an important role in bringing older people’s voices and experiences into this process.