Ageing and the protection of human rights: current situation and outlook
Sandra Huenchuan and Luis Rodríguez-Piñero
The use of a human-rights-based approach to the analysis and interpretation of age-related issues has marked a paradigm shift with regard to a stage of life that has traditionally been associated with a wide range of unmet needs, and the United Nations has made an extremely valuable contribution to this change. In the case of older persons, however, there is no legally binding instrument that protects their rights, as there is for other groups that are subject to discrimination. In order to remedy this situation, the extremely disparate norms that now exist will have to be consolidated.
The Brasilia Declaration, issued in 2007 at the Second Regional Intergovernmental Conference on Ageing in Latin American and the Caribbean and ratified the following year by ECLAC in resolution 644(XXXII), gave rise to two important mandates for addressing this situation, inasmuch as it called upon participating governments to work towards the development of an international convention on the rights of older persons and to designate a special rapporteur to look into relevant issues.
This publication seeks to supplement earlier contributions made by CELADE in respect of the first of those mandates. To that end, it begins by examining the conceptual and theoretical models underlying the approach taken to issues on the academic and political agendas that are of concern to older persons. An overview is then provided of international and regional norms relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons. This discussion is accompanied by an analysis of national laws for the protection of the rights of older persons in Latin America. Arguments for an international convention on older persons’ rights are then put forward from the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean, together with a discussion of the essential components of such an instrument. Finally, the discussion turns to measures for moving towards the approval of such a convention that could be taken at a regional level. In addition to the full texts of the Brasilia Declaration and general recommendation No. 27 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, there are two other annexes that provide very useful information on possible components of a future international convention on the rights of older persons and their sources and on the content and sources of legislation on the rights of older persons in the countries of the region.