UN Human Rights Chief calls for better protection of the rights of older persons

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday stressed the urgent need for better legal protection of older persons, a growing sector of society that is often most affected by discrimination and neglect, and least protected against them.

The High Commissioner welcomed the General Assembly’s establishment of a dedicated working group on the human rights of older persons, to begin its proceedings today in New York. She noted in particular the need for the working group to address existing gaps, including through the consideration of a new international legal instrument or other measures.

“The irony of the elderly being excluded from the very societies and institutions that they have built is too tragic to ignore,” Pillay said.

“Dedicated attention to the human rights of older persons is long overdue. We welcome the General Assembly’s decision to focus attention on enhancing protection of the rights of older persons and we have high expectations for the outcomes of the working group’s discussions.”

One in every 10 people is now aged 60 or more. By 2050, one in five people will be over 60 years old.
Pillay noted that age discrimination is a growing matter of concern in many societies around the world. Cases of abuse and neglect are common in all regions, and current trends indicate that the situation is set to worsen.
Similarly, data on retrogressive social policies and measures, and the impact of the financial crises demonstrates a disproportionate impact on older persons. Changes in pensions systems, coverage of health services, and reductions in social protections are some areas in which the elderly stand to lose most.
The open-ended working group on the human rights of older persons was established by the General Assembly in December to consider whether a new international instrument or other measures are needed to ensure a stronger level of protection for this community. It will also consider how to enhance existing international mechanisms to guarantee they effectively address the real issues the elderly face at the national level.
The High Commissioner said her office would continue to be actively engaged with the working group to support its important mandate.


For more information on the OHCHR’s work on the human rights of older persons: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/Pages/OlderPersonsIndex.aspx
Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx