Media Center

Press Release

OAS, PAHO and ECLAC Leaders Call for Implementation of the Inter-American Convention on the Rights of Older Persons

  September 3, 2015

The head representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) today called on the countries of the Americas to ratify and implement the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of Human Rights of Older Persons, adopted last June by the General Assembly of the OAS.

In a meeting at PAHO headquarters in Washington, DC, the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro; PAHO Director Carissa Etienne; and the representative of the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Sandra Huenchuan, urged states, international agencies, academic institutions, human rights organizations and civil society to work on the dissemination of the convention and the drafting of relevant legislation in states. They also urged support for initiatives to promote healthy aging and the provision of information to seniors about their human rights.

The Secretary General of the OAS said that "now we must move from words to action and follow-up on the commitments made and promote the effective implementation of this convention, which represents a strong instrument to raise awareness and combat prevailing stereotypes and to create positive and realistic images about the aging process, particularly at the national level. Every age limit set in any competition brings with it discrimination."

Almagro said that the Convention establishes a monitoring mechanism composed of a Conference of States Parties and a committee of experts, which will greatly contribute to improving public policy in this field at the hemispheric level. "This follow-up mechanism will be formed upon receipt of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession," he added.

For her part, the Director of PAHO said that the institution she leads, together with the OAS and ECLAC, celebrate the commitment of the countries of the Americas to protect the human rights of older people, proof of which can be seen in the adoption of the Convention at the OAS General Assembly in June. Etienne described the Convention as " an essential instrument to implement strategies, targets, actions and indicators on healthy and active aging at the international, regional, national and local levels. I think this is particularly relevant given the context of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda," she added.

Meanwhile, ECLAC Aging Specialist Sandra Huenchuan, on behalf of the Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, stressed that governments, with the participation of stakeholders, must achieve consensus to meet the demand for equality and non-discrimination. "According to the ECLAC, and particularly its Executive Secretary, equality is a value and a right; it is the ethical horizon but, above all, is the goal to be achieved by sustainable development. The implementation of the convention leads us to identify effective actions and measures that can be undertaken in the short and medium term, to create conditions that will lead to its genuine application," she said.

The convention is the first treaty of public international law on this issue whose specific purpose is to promote and protect the human rights of older persons. The document establishes specific measures to regulate areas related to health and healthy aging, such as protecting the right of people to health, social security, work, housing, to have information on treatments, palliative care, and against discrimination and abuse.

To date, the Convention has already been signed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay. To enter into force, it must be ratified by at least two countries.

A gallery of photos of the event will be available here.

Reference: E-227/15