Press Release

International Day of Older Persons

October 9, 2018

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Geneva / Washington, DC - On the International Day of Older Persons, hold on 1 October, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons of the United Nations, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, welcome the progress made in the protection of the rights of older persons and urged States to take measures to ensure the full enjoyment and exercise of their rights.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights through its Unit on the Rights of Older Persons and the Independent Expert of the United Nations reiterate their salute to the advances in the protection of the right of older persons to health, derived from the emblematic decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case Poblete Vilches v. Chile, in which standards were developed on the obligation to guarantee a reinforced protection through differentiated measures by States, as well as the need to give visibility to the older persons as subjects of special protection and comprehensive care rights, with respect of their autonomy and independence, and the obligation to provide them with the necessary health benefits in an efficient and continuous manner. In addition, the Commission and the Independent Expert of the United Nations welcome the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Older Persons in 2018 by at least one state in the region.

At the same time, it is necessary to indicate that the UN Independent Expert and the IACHR participated jointly in various events within the framework of the ninth session of the Open-ended Working Group on Aging, which took place from 23 to 26 July 2018, to raise awareness of the various issues that older people face to make their right effective. The Commission and the Independent Expert of the United Nations highlight that within the challenges at the global level they identified the access to palliative care, the guarantees of protection of their right to informed consent in health matters, the need for support from States in those countries in which older people do not have sufficient resources to access their rights and the need to advance in the deinstitutionalization of older people and the strengthening of the capacities of their caregivers.

In that regard, Commissioner Flavia Piovesan, in charge of the Unit on the Rights of the Older persons, stated that "gaps and obstacles have been identified in some countries that require immediate attention by States to continue to progress towards the construction of comprehensive systems of protection of the older persons and the insertion of their rights as a priority in the public agenda of States and the region." Likewise, Rosa Kornfeld, UN Independent Expert on the subject said that "the rights of the older persons, and in particular the right to a dignified life, should be a priority for all the States of the world for which it is required the adoption of legislation, public policies and other measures for their protection at the global level".

The IACHR and the Independent Expert consider that aging is a problem that is affecting the demography of the American region and of the world. It is therefore crucial to continue to take steps to protect older people and their access to dignified life, free from all forms of violence and isolation, with a differential and intersectional approach. Likewise,  the need to address matters of old age and ageing from a human-rights perspective that recognizes the valuable current and potential contributions of older persons to the common good, to cultural identity, to the diversity of their communities, to human, social, and economic development, and to the eradication of poverty.

For this reason, both the Commission and the United Nations Independent Expert reiterate their call for States to ratify the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons and to take measures to guarantee the enjoyment of other fundamental rights for a dignified life.

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. The Thematic Unit on Older Persons was created in 2017.

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights of older persons in May 2014. Mrs. Kornfeld-Matte was National Director of the National Service of the Senior Adult of Chile where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Aging. She has a long academic career and is the founder of the Senior Citizens program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special procedures are the large body of independent experts in the UN human rights system. It is the general name of the Council's research and monitoring mechanisms, which address country-specific or thematic situations in all parts of the world. Special procedures experts work on a voluntary basis are not part of the United Nations staff and are not paid for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in their individual capacities. For further information and media requests, please contact Mr. Khaled Hassine (+41 22 917 93 67, [email protected]) or write to [email protected].

No. 221/18