Thursday, June 29, 2017

Supported decision making - alternative to elder guardianship

For many years now, and especially after the taking into force of the CRPD - Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there has been much debate around the need to develop the Supportive Decision Making Model as an alternative to existing guardianship regimes.
However, in real life there has been relatively little actual experience in this field.
A new report from Israel describes a new model for such supported decision making model, which can be a good starting point for further development of such services.
Here is the link to the full report:
http://bizchut.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Support-system-Model-Bizchut.pdf
Israeli Report

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Human Rights Council extends the mandate of the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons

 On September 26, 2016, the Human Rights Council, decided to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons for a period of three years:
This is an important decision as it allow the IE (Independent Expert) to continue its role in advancing new policies and instruments to promote the human rights of older persons across the globe.
Here is the full text of the decision:

33/…   The human rights of older persons
       The Human Rights Council,
       Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
       Guided also by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other relevant human rights instruments,
       Reaffirming the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,
       Bearing in mind the Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing of 2002, and all other relevant General Assembly resolutions,
       Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 21/23 of 28 September 2012 and 24/20 of 27 September 2013 on the human rights of older persons,
       Recalling also its resolutions 5/1, on institution-building of the Human Rights Council, and 5/2, on the Code of Conduct for special procedures mandate holders of the Council, of 18 June 2007, and stressing that the mandate holder shall discharge his or her duties in accordance with those resolutions and the annexes thereto,
       Welcoming the work and taking note with appreciation of the reports of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons and of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, which is open to all States Members of the United Nations, for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons,
       Acknowledging the efforts of States to determine the best way to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older persons, considering the various proposals that have been made within the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, including the possible elaboration of a multilateral legal instrument on the rights of older persons,
       Acknowledging also the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,[1] and stressing the need to ensure that no one is left behind, including older persons,
       Recognizing the essential contribution that older men and women can make to the functioning of societies and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,
       Noting with appreciation the developments at the regional level towards the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons, such as the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of Human Rights of Older Persons and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa, as adopted by their State parties,
       Noting that, between 2015 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 per cent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and that this increase will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, and recognizing that greater attention is needed to the specific challenges affecting older persons, including in the field of human rights,
       Concerned at the multiple forms of discrimination that may affect older persons and at the high incidence of poverty and isolation among this particularly vulnerable group, especially older women, persons with disabilities, persons of African descent, individuals belonging to indigenous peoples, persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, rural persons, persons living on the streets, migrants and refugees, among other groups,
       1.             Recognizes that older persons face a number of particular challenges in the enjoyment of their human rights that need to be addressed urgently, including in the areas of prevention of and protection against violence and abuse, social protection, food and housing, right to work, equality and non-discrimination, access to justice, education, training, health support, long-term and palliative care, lifelong learning, participation and accessibility;
       2.             Emphasizes the need for a comprehensive, all-encompassing approach to the care of older persons, which should be sustainable and based on human rights, and the need for coordination among sectors, policies, institutions, regional and local governments throughout the continuum of care, from prevention, promotion, rehabilitation to long-term and palliative care, including social care and other community services;
       3.             Recalls the need to combat the various forms of violence against older persons, a widespread phenomenon that includes discrimination in the public sphere, linguistic and employment discrimination, lack of access, isolation, neglect, financial exploitation, physical and psychological violence and the withholding of basic needs, as well as physical attacks;
       4.             Reiterates that poverty and lack of income security constitute major concerns for many older persons and that information and advisory services on social security payments, pensions and retirement planning contribute to preventing old-age poverty, reducing the risk-of-poverty rate, vulnerability and social exclusion;
       5.             Emphasizes that consultation with older persons is essential in the formulation and adoption of legislation and policies relating to their specific needs and concerns;
       6.             Decides to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons for a period of three years:
       (a)           To continue to assess the implementation of national, regional and international standards  relevant to the rights of older persons and to identify, exchange and promote best practices related to the promotion and protection of these rights;
       (b)           To report on developments, challenges and protection gaps in the realization of the rights of older persons, including as input to the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, and to make recommendations to the Human Rights Council in this regard;
       (c)           To gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with States and other relevant sources, including older persons, their representative organizations and other civil society organizations, on violations of the rights of older persons;
       (d)           To conduct, facilitate and support the provision of advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and international cooperation in support of national efforts for the effective realization of the rights of older persons;
       (e)           To raise awareness of the challenges faced in the realization of the human rights of older persons and of the positive contribution of older persons to society, and to provide them with information about their rights;
       (f)            To engage in dialogue and to consult with States and other relevant stakeholders, including United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, older persons, civil society organizations and academic institutions;
       (g)           To work in cooperation with States, assisting them when requested, in order to foster the implementation of measures that contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons;
       (h)           To integrate a gender and disability perspective throughout the work of the mandate, and to address multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination faced by older persons;
       (i)            To work in close coordination, while avoiding unnecessary duplication, with the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Human Rights Council, relevant United Nations bodies and the treaty bodies;
       7.             Requests all Governments to cooperate with the Independent Expert, and invites them to provide the mandate holder with all the necessary information related to the mandate;
       8.             Encourages all relevant stakeholders, including United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions and civil society, and invites the private sector, donors and development agencies, to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert to enable the mandate holder to fulfil the mandate;
       9.             Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the reports of the Independent Expert are brought to the attention of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 3 of General Assembly resolution 67/139 of 20 December 2012;
       10.          Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Independent Expert with all the human, technical and financial resources necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate;
       11.          Decides to remain seized of the matter.


                     [1]   General Assembly resolution 70/1. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons has been published

The Report of the Independent Expert (IE) on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons:
 A Short Summary 
by Prof. Israel (Issi ) Doron


In general, this is the comprehensive report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, prepared pursuant to Council resolution 24/20. In the present report, the Independent Expert assesses the implementation of existing international instruments with regard to older persons while identifying best and good practices and gaps in the implementation of existing laws related to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons. The report also provides an analysis of the human rights implications of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002. The report consists 6 parts:

In Part 1, the Introduction, the reports describes the background of the IE's nomination, its mandate, its relationships with the UN OEWG (Open Ended Working Group) on Ageing. In the introduction, the IE's activities prior to submitting of the report (e.g. participation in various international conferences and cooperation with various organizations) are also described.

In Part 2, a descriptive analysis of existing human rights of older persons in provided. It begins with referring to the demographic shift and aging of human society. It refers to the IE's 1st report which provided an overview of the existing HR instruments and initiatives pertaining to the rights of older persons. Therefore, the present report focuses only on the regulatory and normative developments that have taken place since the completion of the Independent Expert’s previous report. In specific, it mentions the States members of the Organization of American States approved the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons; as well as the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. It also refers to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015 represents an important step forward, as older persons are included directly or by implication in 15 of the 17 global Goals.

In Part 3, an attempt was made to describe best practices and gaps in implementation of existing law. The methodology used by the IE was described as follows: the Independent Expert sent out a questionnaire to States and stakeholders to identify and collect best practices and good practices. As at 2 June 2016, 74 replies had been received, 40 of which had come from States, 14 from national human rights institutions, 19 from non-governmental organizations and 1 from an intergovernmental organization (Art. 26).[1] In summarizing its findings, the IE organized the findings in the following key topics: [For each topic only a few examples are provided in this summary. See the full report for the comprehensive picture]

(1) Legal institutions and policy framework: For example, the IE indicates that A number of countries have adopted national strategies, action plans or specific legislation on older persons, which are sometimes comprehensive in nature or geared towards specific areas such as non-discrimination or the right to health of older persons.  In specific, the IE emphasizes the importance of the engagement and participation of older persons in framing such policies and strategies.
(2) Care: The IE refers to her previous report on this topic. For example, the IE describes initiatives regarding the importance of information, coordination, and medical insurance as key issues. Furthermore, examples around the right to age in place (or at home), the right to care in rural areas, and the challenges of residential and institutional care are also presented.
(3) Social protection: The IE opens with the important statement that Poverty and lack of income security constitute major concerns for many older persons. Social transfers, in particular adequate pensions, significantly contribute to ensuring the financial security of older persons and are a suitable means of reducing the at-risk-of-poverty rate, their vulnerability and social exclusion. The IE then describes the various trends that emerge, including the provision of universal public pensions, providing information and advisory services, and the promotion of resource-generating activities.
(4) The right to work: the IE re-emphasizes that participation in the labour market enhances the self-esteem of older persons, their social inclusion and their financial security. Older workers should enjoy equality of opportunity and treatment in relation to all aspects of work and conditions of employment in all sectors. Within this context the IE touches on the need to change employers attitudes, and to improve career counselling, training, and support to business start-ups in the field.
(5) Equality and non-discrimination: the IE points to the important fact that equality encompasses discrimination on the basis of age, and although many countries have enacted anti-discrimination legislation, ageism remains a major concern for older persons in their daily lives. It is therefore essential that legislation contain an explicit prohibition of direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of age. In specific, the prohibition of discrimination should be broadened to various areas on public life, beyond employment (e.g. accommodation or education).
(6) Violence and abuse: The IE begins with stating that violence against older persons is a global phenomenon. It takes many different forms and there are indications that it occurs frequently in all types of settings. The IE points to the need to establish reliable information and data in this field; the need for national strategies; look not only at the abusers but to support the victims; and the issues of safety and prevention plans.
(7) Participation: The IE points that several countries have established participatory mechanisms, such as national or local councils, to ensure the participation of older persons to guarantee that States develop age-sensitive laws and policies to implement and mainstream access to the required protection.
(8) Adequate standard of living: The IE points specifically to countries which adopted policies and good practices around issues of housing and homelessness.
(9) Access to justice: In specific, referring to the fact that several countries have designed comprehensive policies to facilitate older persons’ access to justice. Measures comprise preferential treatment of older persons in judicial proceedings and the provision of adequate information in an age-friendly manner.
(10)           Education, training and lifelong learning: Lifelong learning is not only a precondition for longer participation in the labour market, it also affects the social integration of older persons. The IE points to a number of countries that have developed lifelong learning programmes for older persons or created third age universities.
(11)            Accessibility: Putting in place age-friendly and barrier-free infrastructures requires the systematic inclusion of accessibility criteria in housing and building codes and in city planning and the human rights compliant involvement of architects and engineers in the design of buildings and public places.
(12)           Awareness-raising and research: The IE points that many States conduct awareness-raising activities, some of which focus on ageing in general to promote a positive attitude towards older persons, or on specific issues such as age discrimination. It also emphasized the importance of collecting traditional knowledge, and the need to promote research on the situation of older persons, and to create partnership between various sectors of society in this field.
In Part 4 the IE moves to assess the human rights implications of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.  Methodologically, a questionnaire-based review of the human rights implications of the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action was carried out. 103 responses had been received, including 44 from States, and the remainder from national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and international organizations. The IE notes that while most national plans of action on ageing were adopted after the adoption MIPAA in 2002, the information received is not conclusive as to the extent to which MIPAA has been used to guide government action or has directly influenced legislative and policy frameworks after 2002. Various examples are given by the IE, as the overall picture is again very diverse. The IE also stresses that MIPAA may have informed government action on older persons and that its adoption correlates with the development and adoption of national plans of action and specific laws and policies in a number of countries. However, where legal and policy frameworks exist, they tend to focus on issues such as care or social protection, without addressing the full spectrum of human rights. [2]

Part 5: Conclusions and recommendation include the following key points:
-            Older persons face a number of particular challenges in the enjoyment of their human rights that need to be addressed urgently.
-            The information received appears to indicate that the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing may have positive implications for the enjoyment of some human rights by older persons. However, uneven progress with regard to the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action and gaps between policy and practice remain major constraints.
-            While the Madrid Plan of Action contains a number of references to human rights, it is not a human rights instrument and it addresses ageing issues mainly from a developmental perspective. It has not been designed to comprehensively address existing protection gaps and is therefore not sufficient to ensure the full enjoyment of their human rights by older persons.
-            The Independent Expert calls on States to step up their efforts to determine the best way to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older persons and to consider the various proposals that have been made, notably the elaboration of a convention on the rights of older persons.
Assessment

1.    The limitation of the report: The IE acknowledges that "in the light of the all-encompassing nature of the mandate, does not claim to exhaustively cover the whole spectrum of challenges faced by older persons in the realization of their human rights" (Art. 7). Moreover, from a purely academic perspective, one can also point to some methodological limitations once describing best practices and gaps in implementation of existing law as well as the assessment of MIPPA (e.g. in both cases, as seen in the reports, the samples are not full [only a quarter of the world's countries responded], and reports from key countries [e.g. China, India or USA] are missing). However, these limitations are inherent to almost any empirical study, and are actually very reasonable within the context of a global study conducted within limited resources.

2.    The strengths of the report: The report is balanced, carefully written, and based on evidence provided directly from both member states as well as civil society. It is not ideological or theoretical in its content but rather grounded on the hard work of the IE collecting information and objectively analyzing it. The IE should be commended for her hard work. Overall, the report supports three key arguments that were hotly disputed in the international arena and during the OEWG deliberations:
          i.          Older persons face unique human rights challenges which are not addressed under existing HR instruments;
        ii.          MIPAA, despite its importance and contribution, is not sufficient in addressing the human rights needs of older persons;
      iii.          While there is some progress and there are various examples of good practices in different countries – in almost all fields of life there are still significant gaps in the awareness, realization, enforcement, and promotion of human rights of older persons.
  
3.    The bottom line: In her concluding recommendation (Art. 125), the IE states that she: "calls on States to step up their efforts to determine the best way to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older persons and to consider the various proposals that have been made, notably the elaboration of a convention on the rights of older persons." She continues to state that "It is also hoped that the Working Group will in due course present to the General Assembly a proposal containing, inter alia, the main elements that should be included in an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons, which are not currently addressed sufficiently by existing mechanisms and therefore require further international protection." In light of these words, written after an extensive work, the UN OEWG should adopt these recommendations and join forces in moving forward with the promotion a novel and specific Human Rights Convention for the Rights of Older Persons.



Here is a link to the report:

http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/33/44


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Geneva NGO Forum - Beijing + 20 - and the Human Rights of Older Women

Between November 3 - 5, 2014, the Geneva NGO Forum - Beijing+20 - UN ECE Regional Review was held.
One of the outcomes of this important meeting was the NGO Declaration and Recommendations regarding the rights of women.
The declaration included some general and universal statements, such as:

"We call for: (1) Fulfilment of the Beijing commitments to all interconnected and universal human rights and systematic implementation of a women’s rights approach delivered through and monitored by strong well-funded Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women at every level of government; buttressed by an accountability, resourcing, tax and public fiscal and revenue framework capable of sustainably financing progressive realization of women’s human rights."

However, from the perspective of the rights of older persons in general, and the rights of older women in specific, some very important recommendations were made, e.g. the need to:

Implement existing laws and policies that
protect human rights for all women, every
minute and everywhere, especially for girls,
young women and older women, ethnic
minorities, indigenous women, Roma women
and girls, women with disabilities, rural
women, and LGBTI persons.


Adopt an intergenerational justice approach
to women’s human rights and empowerment,
recognising the specific priorities, needs and
circumstances of women at different of stages
of their life course, especially for girls and
older women, and mothers.


Eliminate age-based stereotypes which
undermine the full potential and effective
participation and leadership of women and
girls of all ages.

Develop an international convention on the
rights of older persons incorporating rights
articulated in CEDAW.

Ensure older women adequate income to live
in dignity and implement social protection
laws and policies that enable older women
to be autonomous, full participants in the
development of society.

Enable age-friendly rural and urban physical
and social environments, structures and
services accessible to, and inclusive of, older
women with varying capacities, especially
women with disabilities.

This important declaration emphasized once again the importance of developing a specific human rights instrument to promote the rights of older persons in general, and older women in specific.

Here is the link to the forum's meeting:
http://www.ngocsw-geneva.ch/home/beijing20/



Saturday, September 13, 2014

A new book: The Law and Ethics of Dementia

Dementia is a topic of enormous human, medical, economic, legal and ethical importance. Its importance grows as more of us live longer. The legal and ethical problems it raises are complex, intertwined and under-discussed. This book brings together contributions from clinicians, lawyers and ethicists, all of them world leaders in the field of dementia and is a comprehensive, scholarly yet accessible library of all the main (and many of the fringe) perspectives. It begins with the medical facts: what is dementia? Who gets it? What are the current and future therapeutic and palliative options? What are the main challenges for medical and nursing care? The story is then taken up by the ethicists, who grapple with questions such as: is it legitimate to lie to dementia patients if that is a kind thing to do? Who is the person whose memory, preferences and personality have all been transformed by their disease? Should any constraints be placed on the sexual activity of patients? Are GPS tracking devices an unpardonable interference with the patient's freedom? These issues, and many more, are then examined through legal lenses. The book closes with accounts from dementia sufferers and their carers. It is the first and only book of its kind, and the authoritative text.
The book is edited by Charles Foster, Jonathan Herring, and Israel (Issi) Doron, and is published by HART Publication at Oxford.
Here is the link to the book:
http://www.hartpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?ISBN=9781849464178

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The 1st Report of the Independent Expert on Human Rights of Older Persons

As was already reported, the UN Human Rights Council has nominated on June 2 2014, Ms Rosa Kornfeld-Matte to serve as the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons.
The Independent Expert submitted its first report, and here is the link to the full text of the report.:
http://www.rightsofolderpeople.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/A-HRC-27-46_en-1.pdf

http://www.rightsofolderpeople.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/A-HRC-27-46_en-1.pdf

The Report includes background information regarding the foundation of the mandate of the Independent Expert, its scope of operation, the legislative context, and the global context of the human rights of older persons.
As little time has passed by since her nomination, this report is mostly descriptive and does not include any new or novel findings or recommendation.
However, here is the conclusion of this first report, which can indicate the spirit and direction that the IE wishes to pursue:

"The Independent Expert aims to respond to the expectations of numerous individuals and organizations with regard to her work on the human rights of older persons, as outlined by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 24/20. To that end, she looks forward to engaging in constructive and fruitful cooperation with diverse stakeholders in all regions. She emphasizes her desire for constructive engagement with the States Members of the United Nations, and reiterates the importance of an inclusive and all-encompassing approach in the discharge of her mandate. She particularly notes the central role of non-governmental organizations, including in providing her with information and engaging with and assisting her as she fulfils her mandate."

We wish the IE the best success in her work, and we will continue to report on her progress.


Monday, August 4, 2014

The Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons

Within the framework of  moving forward in establishing a new International Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago, has been involved in a project to produce a declaration that will serve as a basis for discussion on the future of such a convention. Below it the text of the declaration, and here is the link to input comments and feedback:
http://www.jmls.edu/braun/declaration-responses.php


Chicago Declaration on the
Rights of Older Persons

July 11, 2014

Preamble

(a)   Recognizing the wisdom, contributions, and vision derived from the sacrifice and experience of older persons and their positive effect on life and culture around the world; and recognizing that the great increase in life expectancy that has taken place in the past century should not be perceived as a burden for society but as a positive trend;

(b)   Recognizing that older persons are not a homogeneous group of people, but are instead diverse and unique as any segment of society;

(c)    Recognizing that discrimination against any person on the basis of age is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person, and ageism and the social construction of old age, including bias, stereotypes, prejudices, and stigma of older persons are forms of discrimination that hinder the full realization of their human rights and participation of older persons as equal members of society;

(d)   Concerned about the difficult situation experienced by older persons who may face multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination based on the interaction between their age and other factors such as race, color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability, or other status;

(e)    Recognizing the importance for older persons of their individual autonomy and independence, including the freedom to make their own choices;  

(f)     Considering that older persons should have the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes about policies and programs, including those directly concerning them;

(g)   Recognizing the fact that older persons often live in conditions of poverty, and highlighting the importance of accessibility to the rights to the physical, social, economic, and cultural environment, to health and education, and to information and communication, in enabling older persons to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(h)   Recalling human rights principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, as well as other international and regional human rights treaties and instruments;

(i)     Recalling also the Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging (1982), the International Federation on Ageing Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Older Persons (1990), the U.N. Principles for Older Persons (1991), the Brasilia Declaration on Ageing, World Health Organization (1996), the International Federation on Ageing, A Montreal Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Older People (1999), the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (2002), the Toronto Declaration on the Global Prevention of Elder Abuse (2002), Brasilia Declaration, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2007), the Yokohama Declaration (2010), the Vienna Ministerial Declaration (2012), the San Jose Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean (2012), the Istanbul Initiative on Ageing Congress Declaration (2013), the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on the Promotion of Human Rights of Older Persons (2014), the Draft Charter on the Rights and Freedoms of Older Persons, Australian Research Network on Law and Ageing,  the Draft Inter-American Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons, the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa, and other international documents promoting the rights of older persons; and

(j)     Convinced that a comprehensive international convention to protect and promote the rights of older persons will contribute to redressing the profound social disadvantage of older persons and promote their equal participation in the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural life in both developing and developed countries.


We hereby adopt the following Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons in order to advance the creation of an international convention on the rights of older persons.


Article 1 – Purpose and Core Principles

(a)   The purpose of this Declaration is to provide, advance, and promote a basis for the development of a convention on the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

(b)   The principles recognized by this Declaration are:

1.    Respect for inherent dignity;

2.    Respect for individual autonomy, including the freedom to make  one’s own choices;

3.    Respect for the independence and capabilities of older persons;

4.    Respect for interdependence and caring relationships;

5.    Respect for non-discrimination and equality under law;

6.    Respect for family relationships and intergenerational solidarity;

7.    Respect for full and effective participation and inclusion in society;

8.    Respect for and recognition of older persons as part of human and cultural diversity; and

9.    Respect for aging as an integral and continuous part of life.


Article 2 – Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Older Persons

Older persons have the following rights and nothing in this Declaration diminishes any greater rights granted to them that may be contained in local, national, regional, or international law.



(a)  Equality, Non-Discrimination, and Equal Opportunity

Discrimination against older persons on the basis of age is prohibited.

(b)  Quality of Life

1.    Older persons have the right to the effective enjoyment of the right to life, to live with dignity in old age, and to make decisions about the quality of their lives.

2.      Older persons have the right to support in making decisions regarding their present and future circumstances.

(c)   Liberty

1.    Older persons have a right to liberty and security of person.

2.    Old age should never justify a deprivation of liberty.

3.    Older persons have the right to personal mobility with the greatest possible independence.

4.    Older persons have the right to liberty of movement, freedom to choose their residence, and the right to a nationality.

(d)  Equality Before the Law

1.    Older persons have the right to equality before the law.

2.    Older persons have the right to access to justice on an equal basis with others.

3.    Older persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefits of the law.

4.    Denial of legal capacity on the basis of old age is prohibited.

5.    Older persons have the right to assistance and support in the exercise of their legal capacity.



(e)  Health and Long Term Care

1.    Older persons have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and long term care without discrimination on the basis of age, including access to public health, preventive medicine, palliative care, and rehabilitation.

2.    Older persons have the right to the benefits of scientific progress and health and long term care related research.

3.    Older persons have the right to self-determination in health and long term care related matters and to make such decisions based on informed consent.

4.    Older persons have the right to dignity, privacy, and autonomy in making health and long term care related decisions.

5.    Older persons have the right to express their wishes and preferences regarding future health and long term care related decisions and to have those expressions respected.

6.    Older persons have the right to assistance and support in receiving, understanding, and processing information in making informed health and long term care related decisions. 

(f)   Adequate Standard of Living

Older persons have the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food, water, clothing, and housing, and to improve their living conditions without discrimination on the basis of age.

(g)  Housing

1.    Older persons have the right to adequate housing.

2.    Older persons have the right to choose on an equal basis with others their place of residence, the persons with whom they may live, and they are not obliged to live in any particular living arrangement.

3.    Older persons have the right to security of tenure free from disproportionate interference.

(h)  Living Independently and Being Included in the Community 

1.    Older persons have the right to live independently and to make choices to facilitate their full inclusion and participation in the community.

2.    Older persons have the right to access and choose a range of in-home formal or informal care and other community support services. This includes personal assistance necessary to support independent living and inclusion in the community and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community.

3.    Older persons have the right to community services and facilities that are responsive to their needs.

4.    Older persons have the right to participate fully in all aspects of life, including equal access to the physical environment, transportation, information, communications, technology, and other facilities and services open to the public.

(i)   Education

Older persons have the right to education, training, and life-long learning without discrimination.

(j)   Work and Employment

1.    Older persons have the right to work, including the right to participate in a workforce that is open, inclusive, and accessible to persons of all ages.

2.    Mandatory retirement based on age is prohibited.

(k)  Land and Other Property

1.    Older persons have the following rights without discrimination on the basis of age or gender: to use, own, transfer, inherit, and participate in the redistribution of land and other property.

2.    Older persons have the right to exercise self-determination with respect to their property and the right not to be arbitrarily or unlawfully deprived of their property.

(l)   Freedom from Torture or Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Older persons have the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

(m)Freedom from Exploitation, Concealment, Violence, Abuse, and Neglect

1.    Older persons have a right to be free from all forms of exploitation, concealment, violence, abuse, and neglect.

2.    Older persons have the right to recovery and reintegration when exploitation, concealment, violence, abuse, or neglect is committed against them.

3.    Older persons have the right to recovery and reintegration in an environment that fosters dignity, health, well-being, self-respect, and autonomy, and is sensitive to self-identification and personhood.

4.    Older persons have the right to be free from medical abuse, including nonconsensual treatment, medication, experimentation, and hospitalization.

5.    Older persons may not be denied medical treatment or have medical treatment limited on the basis of age.

(n)  Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

Older persons have the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including, the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice.

(o)  Freedom of Association

Older persons have the right to freedom of association and to create their own associations.

(p)  Respect for Privacy

Older persons have the right to privacy, in all aspects of their lives, including, in their home, family life, communications, intimacy, health, and financial matters.

(q)  Social Protection

Older persons have the right to social protection, including income security, without discrimination on the basis of age or gender.

(r)   Participation in Social, Political, and Cultural Life

1.    Older persons have the right to participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure, and sport.

2.    Older persons have the right to exercise political rights, including the right to vote, stand for office, and participate in the political process.

(s)   Right to Assistance

Older persons have the right to assistance in exercising the rights in this Declaration.


Article 3 - Obligations of States with Respect to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Older Persons

(a)    Each State should ensure and promote the full realization and exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for older persons without discrimination of any kind on the basis of age.  To this end, each State should:

1.   Adopt appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to implement the rights recognized in this Declaration;

2.   Take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs, and practices that constitute discrimination against older persons;

3.   Take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons in all policies and programs;


4.   Promote research and development of universally-designed goods, services, equipment, facilities, and technology to meet the specific needs of older persons;

5.   Provide accessible information to older persons about all forms of assistance, support services, facilities, technology, scientific progress, and health-related research;

6.   Promote, train, and support formal and informal caregivers, including family members, working with older persons;

7.   Take measures to ensure access to justice by older persons;

8.   Prevent the occurrence of exploitation, violence, abuse, or neglect;

9.   Ensure that independent authorities effectively monitor facilities and programs serving older persons;

10.Ensure that age-related laws, policies, and practices, including protection services against exploitation, violence, abuse, and neglect are sensitive to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, disability, and other appropriate factors;

11.Adopt laws, policies, and practices to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence, abuse, or neglect of older persons are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted; and

12.Protect the privacy of older persons in all aspects of life, including, in their home, family life, communications, intimacy, health, and financial matters.

(b)    With regard to economic, social, and cultural rights, each State should take measures to the maximum of its available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of these rights, without prejudice to those obligations contained in the present Declaration that are immediately applicable under international law.


(c)     In developing and implementing this Declaration, each State should closely consult with and actively involve the participation of older persons directly and through their representative organizations.

(d)    Nothing in this Declaration diminishes any greater rights granted to older persons that may be contained in local, national, regional, or international law.

(e)    The provisions of this Declaration should extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions.

(f)   Each State should guarantee effective legal protection against all forms of discrimination against older persons in all aspects of their lives, including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, discrimination by association, discrimination based on perception, and discrimination based on more than one characteristic.

(g)  Each State should take active measures to ensure non-discrimination against older persons in areas where they may face particular historical discrimination, such as access to financial services, employment, and insurance.

(h)  Each State should ensure that health and long term care are accessible, affordable, available, acceptable, and of adequate quality.

(i)   Each State should recognize the autonomy of older persons and take appropriate steps to support their decisions to live independently where appropriate, and to promote their full inclusion and participation in the community.

(j)   Each State should take steps to educate older persons about this Declaration and of their rights under local, national, regional, and international law.

(k)  Each State should ensure, without discrimination on the basis of age or gender, the rights of older persons to own, transfer, inherit, and participate in the redistribution of land and other property.

(l)   Each State should respond without delay to reports or allegations of abuse or maltreatment of older persons, especially those who are in detention facilities or are otherwise deprived of their liberty.


(m)Each State should protect older persons from unnecessary pain and suffering by providing access to health care and palliative care.

(n)  Each State should protect older persons from unnecessary use of physical and chemical restraints.

(o)  Each State should prevent and prosecute exploitation, concealment, violence, abuse, and neglect of older persons.

(p)  Each State should recognize and protect family and other private relationships of older persons, including grandparenthood, and relationships of extended caregiving.

(q)  Each State should provide social protection, including income security, to older persons without discrimination on the basis of gender.

(r)   Each State should provide assistance to older persons in exercising their rights in this Declaration

(s)   Each State should closely consult with and actively involve older persons and their representative associations in developing legislation and policies affecting their rights in this Declaration.

(t)   Each State should protect the rights of older persons during armed conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, and natural disasters.


Article 4 - Women

(a)  Each State should recognize that older women are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

(b)  Each State should take special measures to ensure the full development, advancement, and empowerment of older women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.


Article 5 – Older Populations with Specific Vulnerabilities

(a)  Each State should take special measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by specially vulnerable populations including the following;

1.    National, ethnic, language, or religious minorities;

2.    Stateless persons, migrant workers, internally-displaced persons, or refugees, and their families;

3.    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or intersexed persons;

4.    Persons experiencing a crisis, a tragedy, or an emergency;

5.    Inmates or detainees;

6.    Persons with dementia including Alzheimer’s disease;

7.    Persons with disabilities, including physical, mental, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities;

8.    Persons living with HIV/AIDS;

9.    Persons living in long-term care facilities;

10. Persons requiring in-home care; and

11. Persons living with chronic pain or chronic conditions.

(b)  The enumeration of specially vulnerable populations in article 5(a) should not be construed to exclude other older vulnerable populations.


Article 6 - Emergencies

Each State should take all reasonable measures to ensure the protection and safety of older persons during armed conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, and natural disasters.


Article 7 – Research, Statistics, and Data Collection

(a)  Each State should support and undertake research in the field of ageing.

(b)  Each State should collect appropriate information, including statistical, scientific, and other research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to this Declaration. The process of collecting and maintaining this information should:

1.    Comply with legally-established safeguards, including legislation on data protection, to ensure confidentiality and respect for the privacy of older persons; and

2.    Comply with internationally-accepted norms to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and ethical principles in the collection and use of statistics.

(c)   Each State should collect appropriate information, including statistical, scientific, and other data to assess its obligations to implement the provisions of this Declaration and to identify and address the barriers faced by older persons in exercising their rights.

(d)  Each State should appropriately disaggregate and disseminate statistical information and ensure their accessibility to older persons and others.


Article 8 - Awareness-Raising

(a)  Each State should adopt immediate, effective, and appropriate measures:

1.     To raise awareness regarding the rights of older persons, and to foster respect for their rights, dignity, and personhood;

2.     To promote awareness of the capabilities, contributions, and diversity of older persons; and

3.     To eliminate ageism, stereotypes, prejudices, and related harmful practices.

(b)  Measures to this end include initiating and maintaining effective public awareness campaigns designed:

1.    To promote recognition of the skills, merits, and abilities of older persons, and of their contributions to the family and community;

2.    To promote recognition of the skills, merits, and abilities of older persons, and of their contributions to the workplace and the labor market;

3.    To nurture receptiveness to the rights of older persons;

4.    To promote positive perceptions and greater social awareness towards older persons;

5.    To foster at all levels of the education system respect for the rights of older persons;

6.    To encourage public portrayals of older persons in a manner consistent with the purpose of this Declaration;

7.    To promote awareness-training programs regarding the rights of older persons; and

8.    To promote social and education activities that engage and promote inter-generational understanding, relationships, and cooperation.


Article 9 – National and International Cooperation and Development

(a)  Each State should recognize the importance of international and regional cooperation, and support efforts to realize the purposes and objectives of this Declaration.

(b)  Each State should recognize the importance of inclusion of older persons in the formulation of national, regional, and international cooperation and development programs.


Article 10 - Definitions

(a)  For purposes of this Declaration, an “older person” is generally any person who due to chronological age or status is considered under local or national law to be an older person or is perceived as being an older person.

(b)  This Declaration recognizes that a specific age at which a person is considered or is perceived as being an “older person” will vary from country, region, culture, change in social role, personal capabilities, and other circumstances.


Adopted on July 11, 2014 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois at the conclusion of the 2014 International Elder Law and Policy Conference organized by The John Marshall Law School, Roosevelt University of Chicago, College of Arts and Sciences, and the East China University of Political Science and Law (Shanghai, China).


This Declaration is a work-in-progress and we will update or revise it from time to time.