Call for a UN convention on the rights of older people


Older people across the globe face distinct challenges claiming their rights. As the world marks 75 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, supporters of the Age with Rights Campaign and The Association for the Aged (Tafta) in Durban, South Africa have launched a petition calling on governments to uphold older people’s rights and start drafting a UN convention on the rights of older people.

Older people worldwide face prejudice and discrimination because of their age. Gaps and inconsistencies in legal frameworks fail to address the specific challenges they face in realising their rights, often leaving them excluded from society without legal recourse.

Older people are invisible in international human rights law

They are invisible in existing international human rights systems and many national laws. A UN convention would help build a solid foundation from which effective national laws can emerge, enabling older people to enjoy their rights fully. It would enable them to live equal and dignified lives, free from discrimination.

The Age with Rights Campaign is coordinated by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) and was born out of the need to unite campaigners globally and mobilise in support of the rights and voices of older people across the world. The new petition is an opportunity for the public to add their voices to the call on UN member states to start drafting a convention on the rights of older people.

Dignified, secure and self-determined lives in old age

Margaret Young, the Chair of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People said, “Imagine dignified, secure, and self-determined lives in our older age, no matter who we are or where we are. To make this a reality, we need a UN convention on the rights of older persons.

“This UN convention will promote the full enjoyment of our rights in older age. It will protect our older selves from social and economic inequities, ageism, and age discrimination. It will guide laws and policies to recognize older persons as equal members of society, and strengthen accountability toward older persons as rights holders. Given its transformative ability and potential, I call more of us to stand up for the UN Convention so that all older persons can age with rights!”.

Shaping the world

CEO of Tafta, Femada Shamam said, “I am inspired by our commitment to realising dignity, growth, and a meaningful life for all elders. An international convention on the Rights of Older People not only brings us closer to fulfilling our purpose for the current generation but also contributes to shaping a world where we can age with pride.”

Earlier this year (27 February to 5 March 2023), hundreds of people joined activities as part of the Age with Rights Global Rally in at least 23 countries around the world and the campaign reached 2.8 million people online.