Press Release

IACHR urges OAS member states to sign and ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons

December 14, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held on December 6, 2018, during its 170th Period of Sessions, a public hearing on the "Human Rights of Older Persons: Inter-American Convention and Follow-up Mechanism," requested by the State of Uruguay, and urged OAS member states to sign and ratify the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons approved by the General Assembly on June 15, 2015.

The objective of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the recognition and full and equal enjoyment and exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons, in order to contribute to their full inclusion, integration and participation in society. The Convention also establishes the possibility for individuals to submit complaints to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about alleged violations of the human rights of older persons recognized in this instrument. Likewise, the possibility for the States Parties to formulate consultations with the IACHR in matters related to its effective application, as well as to request advice and technical cooperation from the IACHR to ensure the effective application of any of the provisions set forth therein.

The Convention is the first regional instrument to specifically protect the rights of older persons. To date 6 countries in the region have ratified the Convention - Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Uruguay. The Convention has been in force since January 11, 2017 and provides for an integrated follow-up mechanism composed of a Conference of States Parties and a Committee of Experts, which will be formed once the tenth instrument of accession or ratification has been received. The IACHR recognizes that the full enjoyment of all the rights, guarantees and mechanisms provided for in the instrument is of fundamental importance for the protection of the human rights of older persons in the region.

The Commission in charge of the Elderly Persons Unit of the IACHR, Flávia Piovesan, emphasizes that "it is essential to disseminate and promote the Convention and the new paradigm introduced by it, the fight against age discrimination, eradicating prejudices, stigmas and stereotypes that hinder the full exercise of the rights of older persons. In this regard, the Commissioner adds: "we call on OAS member states to express their commitment to the rights of older persons by signing and ratifying the Convention for the Protection of their Rights".

The IACHR urges all OAS member states to sign and ratify the Convention for the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons as part of efforts to universalize the inter-American human rights system so that all treaties and conventions protect all persons in the region. The IACHR also urges States to adopt measures to foster a positive and inclusive attitude toward old age and dignified, respectful, and considerate treatment of the elderly and, on the basis of a culture of peace, to promote actions to disseminate, promote the rights and empowerment of the elderly, as well as to avoid stereotyped language and images about old age. Likewise, to promote the recognition of experience, wisdom, productivity and the contribution to development that older persons make to society as a whole. The IACHR recalls that countries must design urgent strategies to deal with the consequences of population ageing, with a focus on the autonomy and independence of older people and the elimination of welfare approaches. In this regard, it is essential that States adopt urgent measures to prevent violence and discrimination against older persons.

The issue of older persons was prioritized in the Strategic Plan of the IACHR 2017-2021 and in May 2017 was created the Unit on the Rights of the Elderly Commission. The Unit is working to identify synergies in order to advance the construction of inter-American standards in this area, the promotion of the human rights of older persons and the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, the development of new working mechanisms, and to make the situation of this population group visible through the mechanisms of the Commission.

The IACHR also recalls that a public consultation is open until January 31, 2018 to prepare a thematic report on national systems for the protection of the rights of older persons in the Americas. The questionnaire seeks to receive information on the situation of people in the region and on the challenges and good practices of OAS member states in recognizing and effectively guaranteeing the rights of older people.

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.

No. 268/18