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IFA / GAROP Webinar: Moving Towards a New UN Convention on the Rights of Older People

The IFA partnered with the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) to present a webinar on the process of moving towards a new UN Convention On the Rights of Older People. Moderated by Mr. Ken Bluestone (co-chair of GAROP), the webinar was a panel discussion with Dr. Emem Omokaro (Dave Omokaro Foundation) and Mr. Bill Mitchell (National Association of Community Legal Centres), which analyzed the eighth Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) session proceedings.

Reflecting on the last OEWG sessions, Mr. Mitchell and Dr. Omokaro concluded that the outcomes from the session took a turn when the format of the previous sessions was changed. The member states were previously divided in two general blocks – those that supported the creation of a Convention, especially Latin American States, and those that opposed it, mostly richer countries. The lack of deep debate made it difficult for opinions and positions to change. By allowing more room for discussions, representatives were thereby encouraged to really participate in challenging debates and speak out on their respective opinions.

The two primary focuses of eight OEWG session were violence, neglect, and abuse; and equality and non-discrimination. The panelists believe that the key to successful discussion is to address these problems in their context, in order to find ways to counter them. To do that, the specificities of each country have to be taken into account. For example, Mr Mitchell pointed out that Australia lacks measures to combat abuse and neglect, and Dr Omokaro mentioned the main focus in Africa pertaining to these issues is still on younger people.

Increasing the number and relevance of actors that support the creation of a Convention is essential to making progress towards a new Convention. Mr. Bluestone, Dr Omokaro and Mr. Mitchell have been confronted with disagreements from countries who do not wish to back this project, but they have developed a methodology to convince them. The recurring defense is that the economical and governmental burden of compliance with human rights norms is already too heavy for most countries. Mr Mitchell uses a deep knowledge of the situation in these countries to counter arguments, and reminds us that advocates of other Conventions went through the same kind opposition before they succeeded.

The next objective is to find ways to make the 9th session as successful as possible, as it will be the first session to have national human rights institutes in attendance, and it is important that their participation is active and constructive for progress to be made. Giving a voice to older people is also the key to making relevant decisions. However, anyone can provide support for the creation of a Convention On the Rights of Older People, because the more people who support this project, the more it will gain force of interest.

To learn more about the OEWG and to register your support, visit to find out how to show support on your level.

To download a copy of the article discussed (and written by) Mr Bill Mitchell in the webinar, click here.

To view supplementary webinar documents, click here.

To listen to a recording of the webinar, click here.

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