“We’re running out of time” are the words of Vijay Naraidoo, a founding member of DIS-MOI, a human rights organization in Mauritius. This activist is part of an international movement comprising non-governmental organizations from 80 countries. In 2023, on International Human Rights Day, this collective launched an appeal for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons (UNCROP).
Their starting point is a straightforward observation: older people are invisible in the current international human rights framework. The draft convention has been on the table at the United Nations for many years. This petition aims to expedite the complicated negotiations. Let’s explore why this human rights convention for the elderly is so crucial.
An Alarming Context
The world’s population is aging at an unprecedented rate. In 2023, there were more than 800 million people aged 65 and over globally. This figure is projected to rise to 1.6 billion by 2050, posing new challenges for societies worldwide. The elderly have specific needs and expectations distinct from other population segments, requiring healthcare and social protection. Their profiles are diverse, with many desiring active participation in society. Protecting the rights of the elderly is a matter of global urgency.
The Draft United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons
In response to the escalating demographic crisis, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 64/128 in 2010, calling for the drafting of an international convention on the rights of the elderly. However, due to various complexities and differences of opinion among member states, the process remains unfinished. The next UN negotiations are scheduled for spring 2024.
What Laws Are in Force?
At the international level, several laws aim to protect the elderly, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
So Why a New Convention?
Firstly, the UNCROP would address the lack of a specific international legal framework for the elderly, essential for their protection amid a rapidly aging population. The convention would establish clear and binding international legal standards, enabling states party to adopt laws and policies safeguarding the rights of older people.
The Aims of Adopting the Convention
Protection of Fundamental Human Rights: Ensuring older people enjoy the same fundamental human rights as any other individual.
Raising Awareness of Aging-Related Issues: Recognizing challenges faced by older people, such as discrimination, violence, neglect, and health problems.
Promoting Intergenerational Solidarity: Encouraging positive relations and solidarity between generations.
Setting International Standards: Establishing global norms for the protection of elderly rights.
Responding to Demographic Challenges: Addressing challenges comprehensively in the face of a globally aging population.
Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Establishing mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the rights of older people.
Obstacles to Adoption of the Convention
Several obstacles hinder the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, including resistance from certain countries fearing cost implications or sovereignty concerns. Lack of consensus on specific aspects further delays finalization.
A Petition in Support of the Convention
A petition has been launched by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons (GAROP), a network of over 400 organizations. The petition aims to bring pressure to the forthcoming UN negotiations on the rights of older people in spring 2024.
To support the convention, follow this link : Pétition · IT’S TIME to Age With Rights · Change.org
In 2023, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution urging member states to expedite negotiations on UNCROP, highlighting the urgency and importance of this convention. UNCROP’s adoption would be a significant step forward in human rights, impacting older people worldwide. To date, 57 states, including France, have signed UNCROP, but its entry into force awaits ratification by 30 states. Adoption by the United Nations General Assembly is expected in 2025.