The 9th session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing: Outcome Document
The 9th session of the open-ended working group on ageing took place at the United Nations from July 23rd to July 26th, 2018 . The conference primarily focused on two points which were “autonomy and independence” as well as “long-term and palliative care” .
The Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing was established by the General Assembly by resolution 65/182 on 21 December 2010 . The working group will consider the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and identify possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures, in order to create an enforceable “integral legal instrument” as defined by the United Nations.
The goal of the 9th session of the open ended working group on ageing was to reach a final agreement between all of the member states towards a Comprehensive and Integral International Legal Instrument to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Older Persons.
While the previous sessions focused on understanding the current situation of the human rights of older persons around the world as well as strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons; this session focused on “autonomy and independence” as well as “long-term and palliative care,” with also a focus on normative gaps and how to bridge those gaps so older people who are the victims of socio-economics differentiation or who are disabled, but considering also discrimination against LGBTQI older people, do not fall into those gaps. In a research paper written in 2012 titled “Normative gaps in international law concerning the Human Rights of older persons,” the association “Age UK” described and explained what are those normative gaps of which older people are the victims of . Age UK states in its research paper the following: “Under existing international human rights conventions and standards, older people are largely invisible within the texts of the documents. Governments that have signed up to these standards have not applied these human rights instruments to address the specific challenges and needs facing people as they grow older.” This standpoint reflects the ones of the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) represented during the 9th session of the open ended working group on ageing as well as the standpoint taken by the member states. The goal that is trying to be attained by the NGOs and member states in order to promote and respect the human rights of older people is also stated in the Age UK’s research paper and is the perfect standpoint of what was trying to be achieved during the conference on ageing. The goal is the following: “This is a world in which older people will: be equal citizens with equal rights have enough money for a secure and decent life, and have access as consumers to the products and services they need at a price they can afford have access to the healthcare and social care they need have the opportunity to live healthier longer lives and to enjoy a sense of well-being live in homes and neighborhoods that are safe and comfortable and which enable them to lead fulfilling lives have opportunities to participate and contribute as volunteers, active citizens, good neighbors, family members, and workers enjoy the benefits of longer life, wherever they are in the world” .
It was difficult to reach a consensus during the conference, difficult to be able to build the foundation for a written document that would define the basis of an international legally binding document to promote and protect the human rights of older people as so many factors come into play. Some of the factors are the amalgam of different cultures from the member states just to define if home care would prevail or institutions should prevail in the care of older people, the difference of socio-economics status of the member states and how to fund the care of older people, and finally the content of the legally binding documents and all it has to cover. The different NGOs fighting for the human rights of older people represent LGBTQI older people or users and survivors of psychiatry (Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, CHRUSP). The NGOs rightfully notified the member states to take into consideration for the basis of the legally binding document topics such as the discrimination against older women, the abuse and neglect the older people are the victims of and all the legal consequences that entail; as well as first and foremost, the debate that took place regarding the will of older people and how we must as a society respect their will. An important question was raised during the conference, which was how to define, understand and respect the will of an older person who suffers from dementia or who is disabled and therefore cannot verbally express herself ? Can we, as a lawful, compassionate, loving society take over and decide for older people or do we work towards an international convention and a legally binding document that would promote and respect the human rights of older people, a society that love their elders?
The outline for a 10th session of the open ended working group on ageing has been drawn on July 26th, 2018. When the 10th session takes place in 2019, it will be 8 years since the first session. It is time for the world to take a plea, a plea of understanding, respect, care and love towards our elders, as it was rightfully said during the conference “They carried us on their back even long after we learnt how to walk” . Reciprocity is the least we can do…
 “United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Strengthening the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons.” United Nations. Accessed August 09, 2018. https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/ninthsession.shtml.
 “Normative Gaps in International Law concerning the Human Rights of Older Persons.” Normative Gaps in International Law concerning the Human Rights of Older Persons.- Internationales- Büro Gegen Altersdiskriminierung. Accessed August 09, 2018. http://www.altersdiskriminierung.de/themen/artikel.php?id=4859
 Builder, Doodlekit Free Website. “CHRUSP.” Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. Accessed August 09, 2018. http://www.chrusp.org/.
 “Improving Older People’s Lives Around the World.” The Inclusion Agenda: Older People, Displacement and Gender-Based Violence | News | HelpAge USA. Accessed August 09, 2018. http://www.helpageusa.org/.