Home |  Elder Rights |  Health |  Pension Watch |  Rural Aging |  Armed Conflict |  Aging Watch at the UN  


Mission  |  Contact Us  |  Internships  |    










Specialized Agencies

The UN Charter recognized the essential link between peace, stability and economic development, and provided for the establishment of specialized agencies to promote international economic and social cooperation. The agencies have wide responsibilities, as defined in their basic instruments, in economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related fields. 

The agencies were created by specific intergovernmental agreements and have their own constitutions, governing bodies and membership that are distinct from the UN. However, they have a special relationship with the UN under agreements reached with ECOSOC, which is authorized to coordinate their activities through consultation and recommendations, and to request reports on the implementation of recommendations made by it or by the General Assembly. 

The agencies are therefore deeply involved in the follow-up to the global conferences organized by the UN during the past decade, including the World Assembly on Ageing, and are expected to take action to implement their respective responsibilities under these mandates. The following agencies have adopted programs to ensure the integration of the needs of older persons in their work.

International Labour Organization | The Food and Agriculture Organization | World Health Organization   

The International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the oldest international agency. Created at the same time as the League of Nations in 1919, it became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946. Its main objective is to promote social justice and international human and labour rights through the generation of minimum standards with regard to freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment, and other basic issues. Implementation of standards is reviewed periodically by a Committee of Experts composed of independent jurists. The ILO also provides technical assistance to governments to meet their obligations and fosters the establishment of independent workers' and employers' organizations. Its Secretariat, the International Labour Office, is based in Geneva and supports the work of the International Labour Conference - the main deliberative organ - and its executive council. ILO’s governing structure is unique in that it brings together government representatives, employers, and workers on an equal footing.

In relation to MIPAA, the ILO primarily deals with social protection issues and barriers for the employment of older workers. The ILO’s Employment Policies Unit and the Social Protection Unit’s Financial, Actuarial and Statistical Service Branch are the agencies directly involved with MIPAA follow-up and implementation. The units participate in inter-agency meetings and contribute to reports on aging. The units are also part of a task force, set up by the Austrian government, to guide “the follow-up of the Regional Implementation Strategy of the MIPAA in the UNECE region.”


An Inclusive Society for an Ageing Population: The Employment and Social Protection Challenge (April 8-12, 2002)
This ILO report, submitted  to the World Assembly on Ageing, highlights the ILO’s commitment to the success of the Assembly and its follow-up. The report details the “role of employment and social protection as the source of inclusion in a variety of ways, and presents a set of policy issues that need to be addressed if  'a society for all ages' is to become reality.” 

Skills and Employability Department - Older Workers
The ILO's Skills and Employability Department “assists individuals to become employable through training, skills development and education.”  The Department's “Older Workers”  page provides links to research reports on older person's employment and social protection issues.  

ILO Website


The Food and Agricultural Organization

The Food and Agriculture Organization, headquartered in Italy, is mandated to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations. Rural ageing is one of its priorities. FAO has undertaken a series of studies on rural ageing and its effects. The articles can be found on the internet.

FAO Website


The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) is based in Geneva and was established in 1948. According to WHO’s constitution, their main objective is to attain the highest possible level of health, defined as a "state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." WHO assists governments by strengthening national health services and providing technical assistance. WHO also works towards maintaining statistical services and improving nutrition, housing and sanitation. The executive board is composed of health experts who annually report to the World Health Assembly, WHO's decision-making body. WHO contributed to the World Assembly on Aging in 2002 and remains actively involved in MIPPA implementation and follow-up, particularly by assisting poor countries to shape and adopt aging policies.


UN Calls for Active Older Citizens Healthcare (April 10, 2012)
In celebration of World Health Day, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has addressed the need for providing active healthcare services to elders. His message is especially important when taking into account projections of a substantial increase in persons 80 and older to 400 million by 2050 and a greater number of people 65 and older than children under five within the next five years. Margaret Chain, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), underlined and encouraged the implementation of inexpensive and functional programs that can help citizens grow old healthily.

WHO: Good Health Adds Life to Years: Global Brief for World Health Day 2012 (April 2012)
In the wake of this year’s World Health Day dedicated to healthy aging, the World Health Organization has put together this global brief, concentrating on existing health data on the needs of older people. It is an overview of the situation all over the world and a collection of ideas and actions to add vitality to our increasing years and to understand our elders.

International Plan of Action on Ageing: Report on Implementation (April 2005)

For the most part, the 2005 report repeats information from its 2004 report on implementation. New to the 2005 report, however, is a decision by the WHO Executive Board to “address the specific consequences of two emerging issues, namely older persons caring for family members with HIV/AIDS and abuse of older people” within its “active and healthy” aging approach. 

International Plan of Action on Ageing: Report on
  Implementation (November 2004)
This report compiles the World Health Organization’s (WHO) contributions to MIPPA and its follow-up. Highlights include the 2002 policy framework on active aging, submitted by WHO to the World Assembly on Ageing, which guides policy makers in shaping and implementing aging policies at national, regional, and local levels. On a more practical side of MIPAA implementation, WHO focuses on access to primary health care for older persons. Seeking information of good practice and specific policy recommendations from the field, the WHO will “focus on step-wise implementation of the recommendations” and “create a knowledge base to support countries in reorienting policies towards integrated health and social care systems serving older populations.”

Active Aging: A Policy Framework (2002)
WHO designed the active aging framework as a guide for health policy makers on all levels. The framework identifies seven key challenges connected to population aging and provides suggestions for policy proposals which are “intended to serve as a baseline for the development of more specific action steps at regional, national and local levels in keeping with the action plan adopted by the 2002 Second United Nations World Assembly on Ageing.”

WHO - Aging
This site presents WHO research, activities and events on aging. The provided links offer in-depth information on health related aging issues.

Copyright © 2008 Global Action on Aging
Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us