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Global Action on Aging advocates at the United Nations (UN) in New York to build a better society for older people across the globe. Older persons’ numbers are increasing rapidly. One out of every ten persons is now 60 years or above; by 2050, one out of five will be 60 years or older. UN Member States correctly see this growth among the elderly as a tremendous economic and social challenge for their countries and the world. At the same time, governments agree with Global Action on Aging that the world’s elderly offer great talent and energy to their nations and our world. 

In April 2002, delegates of 160 governments, intergovernmental institutions and NGOs came together at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain, in order to revise the 1982 Vienna Plan on Ageing which had established a global long-term strategy for the aging population. 

The 2002 Assembly’s outcome document, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) , commits governments to integrate the rights and needs of older persons into national, as well as international, economic and social development policies. 

However, this MIPAA document is non-binding and UN Member States may choose to implement the Plan or not. Many millions of vulnerable old people, in both the developed and developing world, still experience abuse, poverty and social exclusion today. The rights of older people need to be better defined and protected. Global Action on Aging believes that an Aging Human Rights Convention (or Treaty), if adopted, promises a better world for older persons. Read more here

This Aging Watch section monitors reports and decisions of the UN system, with regard to the follow-up of MIPAA and the process toward the adoption of a UN Convention protecting the rights of older persons. 

To read some background documents on aging at the United Nations, click here.

Newest Updates

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (July 23-27)
This important report assesses the state of human rights and the situation of older persons.  The authors discuss existing international laws and other instruments to protect the rights of older adults.  This document make clear that older persons face obstacles in the arenas of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

Protecting the Rights of Older People (July 2012)
This document details ten reasons why the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on Ageing should recommend the implementation of measures to strengthen the rights of older adults. 

World: Strengthening the Rights of Older People Worldwide: Building Greater European Support (December 5-7, 2012)
Navi Pillay, Vladimir Spidla and Thomas Hammarberg will speak at a European conference addressing the need for international human rights instruments for older adults.  Occurring in Osnabrück, Germany, this conference will tackle critical questions regarding the rights of the expanding aging population and will discuss the insufficiencies of present day safeguards.

Americas: Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights “Protocol of San Salvador” (Ongoing)
(Article in English)
(Article in Spanish)
Building on the work of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, this document strives to develop essential economic, cultural, and social rights for all individuals living in the Americas.  Article 17 specifically outlines rights of older adults that should be secured. Any State Party to the American Convention on Human Rights may sign the Protocol.

Ecuador: Advance in the Observance of Older Person’s Rights (April 15, 2012)

(Article in Spanish)

Since 2007, the Ecuadorian government has revised its laws to recognize senior’s rights in accordance with the Political Constitution of Ecuador (Constitución Política del Ecuador) and the National Plan of Good Living (Plan Nacional del Buen Vivir).  The Ecuadorian government respects the compromises made by the Declaration of Brasilia (Declaración de Brasilia).  The comprehensive document describes Ecuador’s laws, the country’s responses to the Declaration of Brasilia, the services provided to older adults, the governmental branches that serve seniors, and some statistics that pertain to older Ecuadorian adults.

General Segment: Draft Programme (2012)
A substantive session of the UN is composed of five segments: the High-level Segment; the Coordination Segment; the Operational Activities Segment; the Humanitarian Affairs Segment; and the General Segment.  The General Segment will discuss nine agenda items relating to the work of the UN in the field of development.  Three main types of discussions will occur: the review of the reports of the Council’s subsidiary and expert bodies, the system-wide coordination and review of specific development issues, and special country or regional issues.

World: Dementia: A Public Heath Priority (2012)
The World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International jointly released a report on the global impact of dementia to encourage policymakers and others to address the impact of dementia.  Additionally, the authors want to establish dementia as a global health issue.  The report discusses epidemiology, current policy, health and social care systems, caregiving and care givers, public perception issues, and future courses of action.

Venezuela: Calls to Make the Treatment of Older Adults Reasonable in Venezuela (May 31, 2012)
(Article in Spanish)
In Caracas, Venezuela, the I National Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics (el I Congreso Nacional de Gerontología y Geriatría) included 40 geriatricians and 37 gerontologists.  They explored such topics as malnutrition, loneliness, abandonment and depression.  Specialist Milagros Torres insisted that healthcare providers should work as interdisciplinary teams.  The Congress concluded on May 31, 2012. 

San Jose Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean (May 8-11, 2012)
Representatives from the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered from May 8 to May 11, 2012, at their Third Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing. Together, they identified the essential actions needed to strengthen the human rights and social protection of older persons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Please review the document to learn about the innovative proposals that these governments intend to put into place for older persons.

World: National Websites for the European Year 2012 for Active Ageing And Solidarity Between Generations (February 2012)

To mark the European Year 2012 dedicated to active aging and intergenerational solidarity, several Member States of the European Union put up a national website available to the public to promote their actions. By providing useful links, downloadable documents and information on events and good practices, these official sites also encourage visitors to engage, act and present their initiatives.
Click the name of each country to access the website:
Austria - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - ItalyNorway - Spain

Report: EU: European Commission Active Ageing Report (January 2012)
What do we understand about being old? Can we comprehend the consequences today that will be prevalent at least 15 years from now? This report produced for the Active Aging Year of the EU reflects some of the perceptions that young and older Europeans have on aging and “being old.” For example, the majority of Europeans (71 percent) are aware of the fact that the population is getting older, but this is a concern for only 42 percent of them. A bigger discrepancy exists about the age that people consider “old.”  In more developed European countries such as the Netherlands, people consider a person old if they are 70 years or older; whereas in Slovakia you’re regarded “old” once you hit 57. Policies should be adapted to the social, cultural and economic circumstances in which people age in different countries.

Report:  Global Population Aging: Peril or Promise? (2012)
At its meeting last week in Davos, the World Economic Forum included aging on its agenda for the first time. This report put together by the World Economic Forum provides a comprehensive answer to different challenges that societies will face as the globe ages.

Report:  Report on the Situation of Older Persons in the Hemisphere and the Effectiveness of Binding Universal and Regional Human Rights Instruments with Regard to Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons (December 5, 2011)
This report from the Organization of American States reassesses the rights of older people and the need for states to make sure they are respected. After acknowledging the inefficiency of preexisting international and regional instruments for protecting older generations in the Americas, it advocates for a binding inter-American document to protect the rights of older people “before the end of the first half of 2012.”

UN Secretary General’s Message on the International Day of Older Persons for 2011
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed this note on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, which took place on  October 1 and was celebrated at the UN on October 6.  Nearly10 years after the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, he reassessed the need for action towards aging and welcomed the gains that have been made in the past decade.  Message also available in French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

Report of the Secretary-General : Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (July 22, 2011)

This report addresses the question of the rights of older people in the world, as their number is growing quickly. It deals with the difficulties faced by seniors, such as discrimination, poverty, violence and abuse, social protection, long-term support , specific services to old age, participation in decision-making, access to justice and pensions. In addition, The Secretary General presents the innovative policies and measures adopted to protect them, recalling that there is still no specific instrument for this matter. Finally, he praised the work of the Open Ended Working Group on aging,  encouraged it to continue its efforts and asked Member States to pay more attention to the rights of the old people. Report also available in French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian.

Humanitarian aid is a crucial element of disaster relief. But there is big gap in data collection regarding sex and age disaggregation of the victims. This report, prepared by Feinstein International Center, claims that “Humanitarian aid remains largely anecdote rather than evidence driven” which results in weak analysis of how the aid has been used and whether or not it really served the ones in need.

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) was a stepping stone towards recognizing the rights and potential of older persons. Since then, progress has been made in introducing new policies on ageing in several countries, but in most the implementation has been inefficient or even non-existent. Now is the time for older people to take action and remind their governments about MIPAA. What can YOU do to make the changes happen?

World: Working Group of United Nations on Human Rights of Older Persons (May 9, 2011)
(Article in Spanish)

The first session of the UN Working Group on the Human Rights of Older Persons was held April 18-21, 2011 in New York. At this meeting the current situation of the rights of older people at the international and regional levels was analyzed.


Joint Statement by the International NGO Coalition for the Rights of Older People (April 18, 2011)
The long-awaited working session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing took place from 18 to 21 April, 2011. Along with Member States, many NGOs, including Global Action on Aging, were present to make statements. In a joint statement, the NGO Coalition for the Rights of Older people called for a new legally binding human rights instrument for older people. 

Social Protection Schemes Most Effective Way to Combat Poverty (February 17, 2011)
On February 17, officials of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) claimed that improving social protection is the most effective way to combat poverty in developing countries. These UN officials recommended poorer nations should find innovative ways to ensure that their citizens have basic social security.

World: The Harsh Mathematics of Aging (January 26, 2011)
(Article in Spanish)
If UN projections are correct, by 2050 there will be 1,500 million people over the age of 65. These statistics show it is absolutely necessary to reform the pension system, and senior citizens must assume a greater share of personal responsibility for retirement planning.

Report: Latin America and the Caribbean: Aging and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (December 2010)
(Report in Spanish)
Writers of this report focus on the great importance to implement the Brasilia Declaration (calling for a human rights convention) and the recent Recommendation No. 27 that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted on October 19, 2010. This review of the main activities undertaken during 2010 emphasizes strengthening the measures and capacities that each country has taken on aging.

World: Resolution on the “Follow-Up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” (November 16, 2010)
On November 16, 2010, the UN’s Third Committee agreed to move forward on a path that will lead, if all goes well, to an eventual human rights convention on ageing. The UN General Assembly will consider this Resolution on the “Follow-Up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” very soon. 


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