Friday, January 25, 2013

How will a future international convention for older persons will look like?

The debate around the need for a new international convention for the rights of older persons is being held on  different levels. One of the levels is the international regional levels. Both the America and Africa have been moving much quicker on this front than the UN has.
OAS in specific has been very active, and has been working in the last two years very quickly and has been successful in moving forward in actually presenting a working draft for a regional convention in this field.
Here is a link for the documentations and protocol in this field:

To get a "feel" of this new regional instrument, here is the text of part of the proposed convention: see and feel:


(Presented by the Chair)

Article 11
Right to freedom and personal safety

Older persons have a right to freedom and personal safety, on an equal footing with others, regardless of the family or social environment in which they function.

The States Party shall ensure that older persons:

a.                   Enjoy the right to freedom and personal safety;
b.                  Are not illegally nor arbitrarily deprived of their freedom or personal safety, and that any deprivation of freedom be in accordance with the law, and that under no circumstances should age be used to justify deprivation of freedom.

The states party shall ensure that older persons who are deprived of their freedom because of a process have, on an equal footing with others, the right to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and to be treated in accordance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including being afforded reasonable accommodation.[1]/

The States party shall adopt appropriate measures to ensure older persons in facilities the freedom to move about and to protect their personal safety.

Article 12
Right to freedom of expression and to access to information

Older persons have the right to freedom of expression and opinion, the right to seek, receive, and offer information, on an equal footing with others, by means of all forms of communication of their choosing.

The States Party shall take all measures necessary to ensure the effective exercise of this right, particularly concerning long-stay public and private facilities in relation to:

1.         Informing older persons of their rights and of the legal framework applying to the facilities.

2.                  Ensuring older persons access to the various communication media.

3.                  Guaranteeing access to all technological information media, including social networks.

Article 13
Right to nationality and to freedom of movement

Older persons have the right to freedom of movement, freedom to choose their residence, and to hold a nationality. To ensure the effective enjoyment of these rights, the States Party shall adopt measures to ensure that older persons:

1.         Can exercise their right to acquire and change nationality and to not be arbitrarily deprived of their own.

2.         May not be deprived, for reasons of age, of their ability to obtain, possess and utilize documentation related to their nationality or other identity documents.

3.         May not be deprived, for reasons of age, of access to immigration procedures needed to ensure the exercise of the right to residence and to freedom of movement.

4.         Can exercise the right to leave any country, including their own.

5.         May not be deprived arbitrarily or for reasons of age of the right to enter their own country.

Article 14
Right to privacy and intimacy

Older persons shall have the right, regardless of their place of residence or their mode of living, not to be the subject of arbitrary or illegal interference in their private life, family, home, correspondence or any other type of communication, or of illicit attacks on their dignity, honor, and reputation, and shall be protected by the law from such interference or attacks.

Older persons are entitled to intimacy and to maintain their privacy during bathing or in the various activities of life in an institution.

States Party shall design the measures necessary to guarantee these rights, particularly at public and private long-stay facilities.

Article 15
Right to social security and to care

Older persons have the right to social security, which should include both contributory benefits and non-contributory insurance plans and benefits.

The States Party shall ensure that, within available resources, all older persons receive a permanent minimum income sufficient for a dignified life. Social security systems shall include retirement benefits and other sustainable means of social protection in the event of disability, widowhood, or other causes of loss of the means of livelihood because of circumstances beyond their control; as well as in instances in which they do not meet the requirements to enjoy old-age pension, either because they had not worked or did not complete the required minimum periods of contributions, and lack any other source of income.

            Older persons have the right to care and to comprehensive social protection that recognizes protection covering the areas of health, economics, promotion and coverage for social services, food security, housing, and education, promoting the idea of older persons staying in their homes and maintaining their independence and autonomy.

The States Party shall take measures designed to develop a comprehensive universal care system that takes particular account of a gender perspective.

In planning their social security policies, the States Party shall take fully into account the protection of family life, the needs of the various forms of families, other forms of care, and the full participation of older persons.

Article 16
Right to work and in the workplace

Older persons should have the opportunity to work and to pursue activities that enable them to obtain income.

Age-based labor discrimination is prohibited, as is the setting of an upper age limit for hiring a person for any job or employment, except in those cases in which the nature of the job so requires.

The States Party shall promote the trend toward equalizing the age and conditions of retirement for older men and older women, in accordance with social, cultural, and economic circumstances.

The States Party shall promote policies that take account of the characteristics of older workers, according to the working conditions and environment, as well as work hours and the organization of the jobs, as well as policies that prevent exclusion, and promote the voluntary entry and re-entry of older persons into the labor market.

Employment or occupation after the normal time of retirement should have the same guarantees and be remunerated with the same salary that applies to all workers for similar tasks and responsibilities.

The States shall promote programs and measures for the years prior to retirement that will facilitate a simple and gradual transition into retirement, with the participation of organizations representing employers and workers, and of other interested agencies, including the possibility of creating more flexible forms of retirement, or partial or gradual retirement.

The States shall adopt measures and programs that recognize and promote the contribution that older persons make by unremunerated work in the informal sector and in domestic work.

The States shall regulate work for older persons, as well as the various forms of self-employment and domestic work, with a view to preventing abuse of older persons and guaranteeing them adequate social coverage.

Article 17
Right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Older persons have the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health without discrimination based on age or any other condition.

The States shall establish and implement comprehensive policies for health promotion, prevention of illness, comprehensive care and rehabilitation, and even assistance for the terminally ill. To give effect to this right, the States Party pledge to take the following measures:

a.         Assure universal, equitable, and priority access to timely, quality comprehensive health services, consistent with international human rights standards; as well as the creation and implementation of integrated health and social services.

b.         Formulate legal frameworks and implementation mechanisms for the protection of older persons in long-term care services.

c.         Encourage international cooperation in terms of the design of strategies and exchange of capacities and resources to execute their plans on health and ageing as well as social services for older persons.

d.         Develop strategies that promote healthy personal and environmental behaviors throughout the life cycle in order to encourage active ageing.

e.         Strengthen prevention through self-care, knowledge of the pathologies, and the informed opinion of older persons in the treatment of chronic illnesses and other health problems.

f.          Establish services of quality for older persons by strengthening primary care-based health systems.

g.         Establish high-quality social healthcare services for older persons, based on the progressive care system covering home care, daycare centers, and long-stay facilities.

h.         Promote the development of specialized social healthcare services for comprehensive care of people with cognitive impairment, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

i.          Strengthen healthcare workers’ and social workers’ acquisition of skills for providing these services to older persons, as well as the training of specialized health professionals in geriatrics and gerontology.

j.          Promote training for other healthcare-related stakeholders taking into account their family ties and loving relationships.

k.         Strengthen the technical capacity of agencies responsible for gerontology issues–be they healthcare, programs, or social services–to be able to follow up on and evaluate health care for the senior population.

l.          Promote the gathering and publication of the scientific evidence needed to adapt interventions in health and social issues in aging to national circumstances.

m.        Support the social, economic, and psychological well-being of older persons infected with sexually-transmitted diseases, those who suffer from serious communicable and non-communicable diseases and those who suffer from other illnesses that pertain to ageing. For that purpose the States Party should promote older persons’ access to in-kind aid, affordable health services to enable them to meet the needs of their children and grandchildren affected by serious communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Article 18
Right to education

Older persons have the right to take part in educational programs at all levels and to make use of their knowledge and experience to benefit younger generations.

In order to ensure the effective exercise of the right of education of older persons, the States Party shall:

a.                   Promote the development of educational programs, materials, and formats that are suitable for older persons and that reflect their preferences and needs, as well as the use of information technologies or new techniques, and shall include education-for-health courses and self-care techniques.

b.                  Promote unstructured community-based programs for older persons that are geared to leisure, cultural and spiritual development, physical activity, and other forms of creative use of free time.

c.                   Facilitate access to and the active participation of older persons in formal and informal cultural institutions and activities, including volunteer activities.

d.                  Design and implement active policies to reduce illiteracy among older persons, and especially among women.

e.                   Promote access to education and training in new technologies by older persons, to minimize the generation gap and increase community integration.

f.                   Foster actions to promote the rights and empowerment of older persons by promoting continuing education processes.

g.                   Foster, through education, the transmittal of a positive and dignified image of old age.

h.                  Promote training in gerontology and geriatrics in undergraduate and graduate studies.

i.                    Take such legislative, administrative, and other measures as are necessary to reduce and progressively eliminate barriers and difficulties of access to educational goods and services in rural areas, particularly those related to information technology.

j.                    Take such measures as are necessary to promote and strengthen solidarity among generations and mutual support as a key component of social development.

Article 19
Right to property

Older persons have the right to fully exercise their right to property, not to be deprived of it for reasons of age, and the right to the effective enjoyment of inheritance rights.

The States shall establish the legal and administrative mechanisms needed to provide special protection for the property of older persons, especially against the abuse or occupation of their houses.

Article 20
Right to housing and a healthy environment

Older persons have the right to live in safe, healthy, and accessible environments that can be adapted to their personal preferences and capacities, and their continually changing capacities.

            Older persons have a right to live on their own for as long as is possible, and the States should provide them the home care services for this to happen.

Older persons have the right to a healthy environment that guarantees access to basic sanitation services, clean water and air, and that minimizes their exposure to pollution.

The States shall guarantee the right of older persons to appropriate housing, particularly in crises, emergencies, humanitarian disasters, displacements and internal migration, or evictions.

The States should adopt policies to promote the right to housing and access to land, ensuring access to credit, on equal terms, recognizing allocation to older persons as priority. The policies should pay particular attention to:

a.                            the need to build housing units architecturally tailored to the restricted mobility and physical disabilities of older persons
the need to address the specific needs of older persons, particularly those who live alone, by means of rent subsidies, housing cooperatives, support for housing renovations, and other pertinent measures.

The States should guarantee security of tenancy possession and protection against forced evictions of older persons.

[1].      “Reasonable accommodation” means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities).