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IACHR Press Office
Washington, DC—On the International Day of Older Persons, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on States in the Americas to step up their efforts to ensure that older people can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The aim of their doing so is to contribute to older people’s full inclusion, integration, and participation in society on equal terms, as established by the Inter-American Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Older Persons, which has been in force since January 2017.
The Convention is the first and only international treaty that recognizes the rights of older persons in a broad and comprehensive manner. It promotes a positive attitude towards old age and dignified, respectful treatment of this group, as people with full rights. It also establishes specific obligations for States, which are enforceable and subject to the jurisdiction of those who use the IASHR.
The IACHR commends the fact that, to date, the Convention is binding for nine States in the Americas. In this sense, it welcomes the fact that Colombia deposited its instrument of adherence to the Inter-American Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Older Persons on September 27, 2022. However, further efforts must be made to ensure the Convention is ratified throughout the region. To mark the International Day of Older Persons, the IACHR calls on the States that have not yet ratified the Convention to do so in order to reaffirm their commitment to progress on guaranteeing respect for the rights of older persons.
Through the Convention, governments and societies become part of a new paradigm that recognizes the autonomy of older people and their right to care, as well as the valuable contributions they make to their communities.
There are challenges to adopting public policies that address the specific needs of the elderly. Efforts to generate protection systems for this population have been enshrined in many pieces of legislation in the Americas, and some plans and programs for health, recreation, culture, housing, and access to services are being implemented under the new paradigm for old age put forward by the Convention. These efforts should ensure States take the transversal, universal approach set out in the Convention when implementing social benefits for the elderly.
Some of the core issues addressed by the Convention include the eradication of violence, especially gender-based violence, comprehensive access to health and social security, and universal access to benefits and noncontributory pension programs. The IACHR urges States to include these issues in their human rights agendas to ensure that older people live full, dignified lives and participate fully in society.
Another fundamental issue is the monitoring and surveillance of violence against older people, be this within the family or in long-term care facilities, hospitals, or prisons by facilitating access to reporting mechanisms. Likewise, States must act immediately to investigate all acts of violence against older people, as the IACHR instructed in Resolution 1/20 on Pandemics and Human Rights.
As people age, they should continue to enjoy full, independent, autonomous lives, free from any form of discrimination, while enjoying healthcare, security, and inclusion. Old age is not an excuse to deny older people the right to participate in the economic, social, cultural, and political life of their societies or to fail to recognize their valuable contributions. For this reason, the IACHR calls again on all States to ratify the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons.
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 and to defend 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.