IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Urges States to Guarantee the Human Rights of Older Persons

October 1, 2015

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Director
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mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - In the context of the International Day of Older Persons, held October 1, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges States to adopt urgent measures to ensure that older persons’ human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected.

“The region is undergoing a change in demographic structure by age,” said Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi, who is in charge of the IACHR Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. “In 2009, there were 700 million people in the world over the age of 60, and this number is projected to increase to 2 billion in 2050. A demographic transformation of this sort necessarily requires adapting our society and our public policies,” he added.

Older people often face abuse, abandonment, neglect, mistreatment, and violence, and many obstacles prevent them from exercising their human rights.

“We reaffirm the basic principle of equality and non-discrimination based on age,” Commissioner Vannuchi said. “The historically prevalent conception of older persons as objects of assistance should be replaced by one in which they are seen as subjects of rights.”

Member States should take all necessary legislative and other measures to advance the rights agenda for older persons, which means eliminating all domestic norms that could lead to formal or substantive discrimination.

At its most recent General Assembly, the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons, so as to “promote, protect and ensure the recognition and the full enjoyment and exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons, in order to contribute to their full inclusion, integration, and participation in society.” The Commission urges all Member States to ratify this Convention, whose purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the recognition and the full enjoyment and exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons, in order to contribute to their full inclusion, integration, and participation in society.” It also establishes that persons may submit complaints to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging violations of the human rights recognized in that instrument.

States should combat prevailing stereotypes and create positive and realistic images of the aging process. They should also raise awareness regarding the many contributions older persons can make to society, and recognize their authority and wisdom.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 111/15