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NGOs Follow Up on the Situation of Older Persons Around the World

The UN Charter, Article 71, says that the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) “may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations which are concerned with matters within its competence.” NGOs often act as independent experts to the UN or its Member States. As such, they have brought many important topics of discussion, including the need for a disability rights convention, to the attention of the UN system. While there are over 2,600 NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC, only a handful work specifically on aging. 

Putting the non-binding Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing into practice largely depends on NGO efforts. Often, these organizations form the backbone of regional implementation efforts through their local programs, research and offers to share their expertise with government ministries. Yet, little information can be found on the NGO “bottom-up” work. 

This section attempts to document NGO input into MIPAA implementation and follow-up at the UN headquarters in New York and around the world. 

NGO MIPAA Progress Reports 2007-2008

2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003


World: UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) Indicators: Where are the Over-50s? (June 2008)
HIV/AIDS and older persons are rarely mentioned together. Writers and readers alike assume that older persons don’t engage in sex and have no need to learn about “protected sex.” This blind spot means that millions of older people are left out of international and national policy and education about HIV/AIDS and its transmission, thus limiting the HIV/AIDS response. 

Tanzania: Report on Older Women’s Rights in Tanzania (CEDAW committee) (April 2008)
During the current 2008 session of the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), experts heard reports from Tanzania. Raising an issue that went untouched in most other reports. Bridget Sleap, HelpAge International rights policy adviser, focused on “Older women’s rights in Tanzania.” She gave concrete examples of discrimination against older women, based on their age and sex. In addition, Sleap presented questions that the Committee should ask the Tanzanian government. Miss Sleap then urged the CEDAW Committee to take action to promote the rights and well-being of these ignored women.


Bangladesh: Age Demands Action in Bangladesh (August 2007)
This report discusses the implementation of the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, a large proportion of older persons live in rural areas with limited access to health care and clean water. The government has created laws regarding social pensions and universal health care; however, there is still a lack of awareness of issues affecting the elderly. In addition, the quality of the health care provided and the amount of social pension given are insufficient. 

Chile: The Santiago Declaration on the "Way to Madrid” (April 19-20, 2007)
(Article in Spanish)
An international seminar, “The way to Madrid,” took place at the ECLAC, Chile, on April 19-20. Organizers wanted to review and evaluate the Madrid International Plan of Ageing (MIPAA) five years after its creation. Latin American organizations attending the seminar signed a declaration calling for the creation of an International Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons. The Seminar showed that the concerns and issues affecting older persons don’t appear sufficiently on national agendas. It is necessary to implement and execute MIPAA to help old people who suffer from the denial of their human rights.

World: Governments Not Prepared for Ageing, Warns HelpAge International (April 12, 2007)

On the occasion of the 5 year anniversary of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, HelpAge International urges governments to “implement age friendly policies and practices.” While 159 UN Member States committed themselves to the recommendations contained in the Plan, research reveals that “older people are among the poorest and most vulnerable in many societies, because governments have not prepared for the world's rapidly ageing population.” 

Asia Pacific: Expert Group Meeting on the Regional Preparations for the Global Review of Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (March 27-29, 2007)
Five years after the Madrid Plan on Aging signed by 159 countries, HelpAge International conducted a review of implementation of the Plan focusing on two countries of Asia: Bangladesh and Vietnam. Two aspects of old age that are particularly relevant in Asia are: income security in old age and access to and quality of healthcare. The report also brings up a project with the government of Nepal to analyze the impact of an Old Age Allowance.

UN: Building the Movement for Action on MIPAA (February 12, 2007)
GAA's President Susanne Paul describes why it is important to build a citizen movement for action on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and how these efforts could bring us closer to a UN Ageing Convention. 

World: Major Developments and Trends in the Empowerment of Older People – Creating an Enabling Environment for Realizing Older People’s Rights (February 7-9, 2007)
In this paper for an AARP Briefing series, Bridget Sleap from HelpAge International describes ways to realize older person’s rights as well as assisting MIPAA implementation. Her proposals include policy recommendations, such as improved distribution of identification cards to older persons, as well as steps to address older person’s rights within existing UN human rights machinery. 

World: Major Developments and Trends in Creating Enabling Environments for Older Persons (February 2007)
As population ageing moves ahead worldwide, more attention is given to the importance of ensuring enabling environment for older persons, which is the Priority Direction III of the Madrid Plan of Action on Aging. This paper lays out major trends in various fields such as housing, caring, or elderly abuse.


UN: Guidelines for the Review and Appraisal for the MIPAA-Bottom-up Approach (December 2006)
The professional staff in the Ageing Programme of the UN Department on Economic and Social Affairs developed these guidelines for governments and focal points on aging in national ministries, to help them take a step-by-step approach to the bottom-up review of MIPAA. This participatory approach to implementation sees older persons and their organizations at the center of activity. NGOs and other stakeholders can also use the guide as a tool to involve older persons directly in the process.

Europe: The Special Role of NGOs in the MIPAA/RIS Follow-up (November 13-15, 2006) 
In this presentation to the meeting of national focal points on aging in the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, Dirk Jarré, Vice Chairman of the Task Force, “Monitoring the Regional Integration Strategy (RIS),” emphasizes the important role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play in the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) follow-up. He urges UNECE Member States to facilitate NGO participation at the 2007 UNECE Conference on Ageing in León, Spain. In addition, he calls on “appropriate material and technical support” for NGOs to organize themselves to “produce consolidated positions reflecting the issues of common concern for the whole sector - and not just individual stances of different organizations.” Jarré put forward the notion of an “NGO Focal Point” who will serve as a “collector and transmitter of information and contributions” for two NGO events he proposes take place prior to the León Conference. 

Philippines: The Evolving Role of NGOs in Meeting the Challenges of Ageing: A Philippine Perspective    (June 26-29, 2006) 
This presentation to the 2006 Shanghai International Symposium on Caring for the Elderly outlines the important role of NGOs in helping implement MIPAA on the local, regional and national level. In the Philippines, non-governmental organizations are actively involved in the “Philippine Plan of Action for Senior Citizens, 2005-2010,” designed to support international and regional mandates on ageing such as MIPAA and the Macao Plan. Throughout the country, NGOs are working through village associations, regional interagency committees and Offices of Senior Citizens Affairs that are headed by a senior citizen. NGOS are advocating for a Commission for Senior Citizens and legislation that favors adoption of social pensions. 

United Nations: Global Action on Aging's Two Day Roundtable on Older Persons in the 2004 Tsunami (February 13-14, 2006)
As part of the Commission's follow up on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), Global Action on Aging along with partners HelpAge International and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the support of Department for Economic and Social Affairs organized a two day roundtable on " Older Persons in the 2004 Tsunami."  In Section 8, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing specifically addresses protecting older persons in emergency situations. The Roundtable concluded with a set of recommendations to strengthen MIPPA on the protection of older persons in emergency situations.

Africa: Understanding and Responding to Ageing, Health, Poverty and Social Change in Sub-Saharan: A Strategic Framework and Plan for Research (2006)
According to the Madrid Plan Action on Ageing and the WHO framework, crucial research is needed toward developing a broad research agenda on ageing for the Africa region. In sub-Saharan Africa, older people’s lives are characterized by growing inadequacies in customary family support systems, vulnerabilities to poverty and exclusion from health services. Yet, due to the AIDS epidemic, older persons have taken on the role of carers to diseased and orphaned children and grandchildren. This report presents a strategic framework for producing high-quality policy and scientifically relevant research.


United Nations: Mainstreaming Older Persons' Issues: How Can NGOs Help? (February 14, 2005)
For this side event at the 43rd session of the Commission  for Social Development, Global Action on Aging asked speakers to point out "open doors" in the ECOSOC functional commissions where NGO's could bring the concerns and resources of older persons. The speaker's presentations provide NGOs with successful models and ideas for awareness raising of older persons' concerns in communities and the UN system- a crucial part of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging.   


Asia Pacific: HAI Asia/ Pacific Regional Conference (November 2004)
Sixty-four participants from 43 organizations representing 18 Asian-Pacific regions attended this HelpAge International Regional Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. The conference served as a “key tool in facilitating communication; sharing information, resources and best practices; and for networking and developing trust among affiliates and organizations working for the rights of older people in the region.” HelpAge organized the conference into several sessions, one of which focused entirely on monitoring the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging and the Shanghai Implementation Strategy. 


Latin America: Bogotá Declaration (October 2003) 
Representatives of older person’s organizations from nine Latin American and Caribbean countries came together during the Second Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Older People’s Leaders and Organizations, to proclaim the Bogotá Declaration. The Declaration lays out a regional plan of action for older persons’ organizations to implement and monitor the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.


Listing of National European NGOs Working on MIPAA Implementation
This link to the “Monitoring RIS” website provides contact information to European networks or organizations operating on a national level.

Listing of Regional European NGOs Working on MIPAA Implementation 
This link to the “Monitoring RIS” website provides contact information to European networks or organizations operating on a regional level.

Listing of International NGOs Working on MIPAA Implementation
 This link to the “Monitoring RIS” website provides contact information to networks or organizations operating on a global level.

Listing of National, Regional and International NGOs Working on MIPAA Implementation in the Asia Pacific Region 
This link to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific provides contact information to NGOs operating throughout the Asia Pacific region.   

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