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Rights of older people

Graphic: Older Indian woman smiling


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Around the world, the number of people aged 60 and over is growing at an unprecedented rate and is expected to reach one billion by the end of the decade.

Two-thirds of the world's older people live in low- and middle-income countries, with a large proportion in the Asia Pacific region.

Negative attitudes around ageing mean that many older people can experience social exclusion, discrimination, violence and abuse, without adequate protection of their human rights.

Social service providers that seek to help older people live with dignity, such as housing and health services, can also struggle under growing demand.

Graphic: Older men in Seoul playing chess

In 2010, the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing was established by the United Nations General Assembly to examine the gaps in the current international human rights protection system and identify how best to address them.

One option being considered is the development of a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

The APF has been an active contributor to these discussions, providing a joint position developed by our members. We will continue to advocate for recognition of the rights of older people.

At the national level, priority areas that our members have identified include:

  • Shifting community perceptions so that older people are seen as active contributors to their communities and not as a "burden"
  • Eliminating barriers to the inclusion and integration of older people into mainstream society, including opportunities to work for those who want to
  • Developing a culture that promotes intergenerational cooperation and understanding.

Graphic: Old woman sits on stair, Sri Lanka

Ensuring older people can live with dignity

The NHRIs of Australia, India, Korea and the Philippines shared their insights into the challenges facing older people with the UN's panel on ageing.

Australia's Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan AO talks about the practical steps that national human rights institutions can play to promote and protect the rights of older people in a region where populations are rapidly ageing.

Image credits

  1. Older Indian woman smiling - Helpage International, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1OP4fpz
  2. Older men in Seoul playing chess - Terence Lim, Flickr; http://bit.ly/1P5mnMS