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NHRIs chart pathway to protect rights of older people

Graphic: Older Indian woman

Representatives from NHRIs and civil society groups have outlined steps that are “urgently needed” to address the challenges faced by older people.

Representatives from national human rights institutions (NHRIs), the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs (ICC) and civil society groups have outlined a series of steps that are "urgently needed" to address the challenges faced by older people, especially older women.

A key session of the 2nd World Human Rights Forum, held in Marrakech, Morocco, from 27-30 November 2014, focused on "Old-age and human rights: Opportunities and ways to protect and to promote the rights of the elderly".

Speakers highlighted the rapidly growing proportion of older people across almost all countries; by 2050, the number of people aged over 60 is expected to more than double, from 841 million in 2013 to more than two billion.

They also noted that many older people are subjected to social exclusion, discrimination, violence and abuse, without proper protection of their human rights.

In his presentation, Adv. Mabedle Lourence Mushwana, ICC Chairperson and Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, highlighted the complex country situations in which people age and the additional pressures this can create.

"Older persons [in South Africa] tend to live in poorer households and the households headed by older persons with access to social security bear the brunt of taking care of several generations who have no income of their own," he said.

He also noted the "tremendous"" impact that HIV and AIDS has had on the burden of care for older persons.

Following the discussion, participants adopted the Marrakech Declaration, which set out eight key recommendations to strengthen human rights protection for older people.

The recommendations included to:

  • collect evidence and data on the human rights situation of older persons
  • identify the gaps in the protection of the rights of older persons and action required
  • establish social security systems to protect older people from poverty
  • address violence against older women
  • raise awareness about the human rights of older persons
  • promote cooperation among various stakeholders and support the important role of NGOs and NHRIs
  • clarify and strengthen State obligations with respect to the rights of older persons
  • develop binding instruments on older persons' human rights, at the international regional and national levels, especially through the development of an international Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

The APF has made promoting and protecting the rights of older people a key element of its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

APF members have also developed a joint position on the key elements that should be included in a possible Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

Date: 12 January 2014

Image credits

  1. Older Indian woman - HelpAge International, Flickr Creative Commons