Open-ended Working Group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons
(General Assembly resolutions 65/182 and 67/139) Fourth Working Session
New York, 12-15 August 2013
Closing Remarks by Chair
41. In his closing remarks, the Chair made reference to the general debate where Member States and civil society representatives contributed their views on the protection of the human rights of older persons, making reference to international, regional, national examples.
42. From this debate, the Chair highlighted two fundamental aspects where consensus was made; firstly that the unprecedented demographic challenges throughout the world, which indicate that as never before in the history of mankind, older persons are and will be visible and present in our societies. The Chair noted that such demographic changes will entail challenges for governments and societies. Secondly, the Chair noted that there was a consensus that mechanisms to ensure the full enjoyment of older persons of their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights are insufficient and inadequate, because the mistreatment, exclusion, stigmatisation, indifference, discrimination, and unmet basic needs of older persons remain a reality. The Chair stated that supporting a model of active ageing also implies collectively allowing older persons to fully exercise and demand respect for their rights. He emphasised that cultural changes that contribute to processes of social inclusion have been accompanied by a different legal framework, which positions older persons to be more knowledgeable of the fact that their inclusion as active persons in society is neither subject to government changes nor to economic crises.
43. The Chair noted that in his view, the above consensus implies that the international community is assuming a new social contract that responds to the need for greater international protection of the rights of older persons. To achieve this goal, the Chair stated that expert panellists, Member States delegates and civil society representatives proposed various mechanisms.
44. For several Member States and some panellists, greater protection could be achieved through a better and more effective implementation of existing instruments and mechanisms, including action plans adopted at the international level, such as the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. For the majority of Member States, civil society organisations and the panellists in attendance, the Chair noted that there was agreement on the need for an international legal instrument that comprises of all the human rights of older persons and allows them to fully and actively contribute to and participate in their societies, as well as combat stereotypes, discrimination, indifference and abuse.
45. The Chair presented brief comments on the main topics discussed in the panel sessions, and made reference to the mandate of the Open-ended Working Group, which he stated had been reviewed at the highest level of the United Nations; the General Assembly. He noted that this review resulted in additional tasks to the original mandate of the Working Group, and that the fourth working session had implemented some of these requests through the timely submission of reports contributing to the deliberations of the Group.
46. The Chair made reference to the interactive dialogue with civil society organisations present at the meeting, and noted larger numbers of representatives from European and North American organisations in comparison to an under-representation of representatives from other regions. The Chair called for efforts towards including civil society organisations from all over the world, especially less developed countries in the process of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing. The Chair made reference to the practice during the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and invited Member States to include in their delegations to the Working Group, members of civil society organisations in their countries and regions.
47. The Chair noted that the fourth session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing brought the negotiations back to the need to reach agreement on various proposals presented at the session, including the possibility of appointing a special rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the rights of older persons; raising awareness; sharing developments across regions; as well as enhancing partnership with civil society organisations and including them in national delegations. The Chair also made reference to the Group of Friends of Older Persons that was announced by delegates during the session and how it aims to carry on working continuously and in between sessions to strengthen awareness and protection of the rights of older persons. He also noted proposals to mainstream ageing issues throughout the United Nations system and at national levels, as well as proposals to consider updating the United Nations principles on the rights of older persons so as to present new guiding principles.
48. The Chair also made reference to proposals to prepare the main elements that should bring together an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older people, as requested in resolution 67/139. He noted that the abstentions on the voting record of resolution 67/139 should not be viewed as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity. The Chair noted that the number of abstentions reflect that additional time and deliberations are needed to build agreement towards considering a new international instrument. He also noted that the active participation within the fourth session of many delegations who had abstained in voting for the resolution, demonstrates a strong commitment to the protection of older persons nationally and internationally. The Chair noted that while there are different approaches and elements for achieving this goal, they are all nevertheless valid and should be further analysed and discussed.
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