Strengthening the Rights of Older People Worldwide: Building Greater European Support

An Europe-wide conference on the need for international human rights instruments for older people

Osnabrück (Germany), December 5-7, 2012

Invited Speakers:

  • Craig Mokhiber -  Chief, Development, Economic and Social Issues Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva
  • Vladimir Spidla, Czech Republic – Czech politician, President of Czech social democratic think tank Masaryk Democratic Academy, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, former EU Commissioner
  • Henning Scherf, Germany- former Mayor of Bremen and patron of HelpAge Germany

This conference is being organised with the support of the European Commission, HelpAge Deutschland and HelpAge International, and in collaboration with Age UK.


2012 is a critical year for the rights of older people. It is the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) is undergoing a 10 year review.

At the international level the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing is dedicated to identifying gaps in the protection of older people’s rights under existing human rights law and the need for new instruments to fill these gaps.

There is still no consensus amongst UN Member States about the best course of action to take. Strong support for an international convention and the establishment of a special rapporteur on the rights of older persons has emerged primarily from Latin American Member States. The general position of European Union Member States, however, is that there is no need for new human rights instruments and that existing mechanisms need to be better implemented.

This conference will contribute to that debate in Europe by bringing together different stakeholders, including older people’s spokespeople from developing countries and Europe.

Key issues to be addressed

  1. The extent and adequacy of existing human rights mechanisms in protecting older people’s rights globally.
  2. Specific areas of concern in relation to older people’s rights : the right to long term care and rights of older people in care; protection from violence and other forms of elder abuse; discrimination on the basis of age in employment and in the provision of other goods and services; equitable access to health services; the right to social security; and equal recognition before the law.
  3. How an international convention and special rapporteur on the rights of older people would provide a positive response to these challenges for older people globally.