In a world where the number of persons aged 60 and over has been increasing at an unprecedented rate since the 1980s -- to reach nearly 760 million* in 2010 – the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons is becoming a crucial issue.
In follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing and at an opportune time when this emerging issue warrants greater attention, the United Nations General Assembly has taken a historical step into that direction:
The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the General Assembly (Third Committee) recently adopted a landmark resolution (A/C.3/65/L.8.Rev.1 [attach with active link]) pertaining to population ageing, which establishes “an open-ended working group, open to all States Members of the United Nations, for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons”.
The new and permanent forum would achieve the above objective by considering existing international human rights framework and identifying possible gaps and how best to address them. This could potentially, pave the way to the drafting of an international convention on the rights of older persons.
More than half of the total population (414 million) of older persons live in Asia, including 166 million in China and 92 million in India. Europe is the region with the second largest number of older persons, nearly 161 million, followed by Northern America with 65 million, Latin America and the Caribbean with 59 million, Africa with 55 million and Oceania with 6 million.
[* Figures are based on DESA and OHCHR latest report, titled Current Status of the Social Situation, Well-being, Participation in Development and Rights of Older Persons Worldwide, United Nations, August 2010]