United Nations Principles
In 1990, the UN General Assembly designated 1 October as the "International Day of Older Persons". In 1991, the Assembly adopted the "United Nations Principles for Older Persons" (resolution 46/91), encouraging governments to incorporate them into national programmes whenever possible. The Principles call for action in many areas, among them:
Independence: Older persons should have access to food, water, shelter, clothing, health care, work and other income-generating opportunities, education, training, and a life in safe environments.
Participation: Older persons should remain integrated into community life and participate actively in the formulation of policies affecting their well-being.
Care: Older persons should have access to social and legal services and to health care so that they can maintain an optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being. This should include full respect for dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy.
Self-fulfilment: Older persons should have access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources and be able to develop their full potential.
Dignity: Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security, be free of exploitation and physical or mental and be treated fairly regardless of age, gender and racial or ethnic background.
Preparing for the International Year of Older Persons in 1999, conscious that the ageing of the world's population "represents an unparalleled, but urgent, policy and programme challenge to governments, non-governmental organizations and private groups", the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 47/5) decided that the year 1999 be observed as the "International Year of Older Persons".
Because population ageing is proceeding more rapidly in developing regions, the international community further urged governments to consider policies and programmes for older persons "as part of overall development strategies".
With respect to national policies, the Proclamation on Ageing, contained in that same resolution, proposes that "the entire population" be engaged in "preparing for later stages in life", and that "old and young generations cooperate in creating a balance between tradition and innovation in economic, social and cultural development".
The "Conceptual framework of a programme for the preparation and observance of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999", presented by the United Nations Secretary-General to the 50th General Assembly (document 50/114), introduced four facets for further exploration, an overall objective and a unifying theme.
The four facets of the conceptual framework include:
The Copenhagen Programme of Action, adopted at the World Summit for Social Development in March 1995, urges governments to make "particular efforts" to protect older persons, especially by:
Creating a financial environment that encourages people to save for their old age;
Strengthening measures and mechanisms to ensure that retired persons do not fall into poverty, taking into account their contribution to the development of their countries;
Encouraging and supporting cross-generational participation in policy and programme development and in decision-making bodies at all levels.
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