A Call to Action: The Rights of the Aging

By Emily Thenhaus, Loretto intern at the UN

Last month, Sally and I, along with our visitor for the day, Loretto Volunteer Coordinator Katie Jones, had the opportunity to attend a briefing on the rights of older persons organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). This briefing featured updates from around the world on the challenges that older persons face and what different nations are doing to address these issues. While innovative approaches to ameliorating the effects of discrimination and hardship were discussed, from Brazil’s universal health care system to the Japanese cultural mores of respecting the elderly, all of the speakers recognized that there still were significant barriers for older persons to realize their human rights. The video included below was shown at the briefing and illustrates many of these shortfalls.

Our colleague Susanne Paul, the NGO UN Representative for Global Action on Aging, also spoke at this briefing and issued a call to action surrounding the protection of the rights of the aging at the UN. While the UN has issued a number of resolutions and statements regarding the rights of this marginalized sector of our society, Representative Paul asserted that it is necessary that the UN also adopt a Human Rights Convention for Older Persons. Global Action on Aging has explained, “…a Convention would change how older persons are viewed as a social group and would create a legally-binding framework for Member States to better protect older persons”.

To advocate for this convention, Susanne invited all those present to write to their governments and tell them why older persons need a human rights convention. Our office would also like to extend this opportunity to you all.
For those of you in the United States, Susanne has recommended that letters are written to:
Kathy Greenlee
Assistant Secretary for Aging
Administration on Aging
Washington, DC 20201

We also recommend checking out Global Action on Aging’s article “ 

Why do we need a Convention“,  for further information to assist you in your letter writing.