Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supporting the Needs of Older People

The rights of the elderly is fast becoming a new major area of focus in the international human rights community.  This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged greater efforts to support the needs of older people, particularly in developing countries. “People around the world are living longer, healthier lives, thanks to advances in health and well-being,” he said in a video message to the opening on Sunday of the 20th World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Mr. Ban added that more people are living longer means that the world will have more experienced workers and more custodians of culture and heritage, it also puts pressure on national healthcare and pension systems.

By 2050, 80 per cent of the world’s older people will live in developing countries and the population over 60 years old will be larger than the population under the age of 15, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

In a 2012 report, the UNFPA interviewed 1,300 older men and women from 36 countries who highlighted challenges related to continued discrimination, abuse, and violence, underscoring the need for governments, civil society, and the general public to work together to end these destructive practices and invest in older people.

In his message, Mr. Ban called for full implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The Plan focuses on three priority areas:

  • older persons and development;
  • advancing health and well-being into old age; and
  • ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

The World Congress is held every four years by the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) and the International Congress Organizing Committee. It is the world’s largest international congress, according to its website.

Click here for our earlier report on preventing elder abuse.

Click here for information on the Organization of American States Working Group on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons.

And click here for a useful list of documents from the Organization of American States (with links) on international law materials promoting the protection of the rights of the elderly.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew) (adapted from a UN press release)


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