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Thank you Mr Chair,
On behalf of the EU and its Member States, I would like to thank the Chair and the bureau, the Secretariat, as well as the panellists for a fruitful session with interesting exchanges of views from various countries and regions. Let me also thank delegates and civil society representatives for their thoughtful inputs. The involvement of civil society, including National Human Rights Institutions and older persons themselves is indispensable to inform our discussions.
In this tenth session we learned about steps undertaken by states at the national level and in regional processes in order to promote the HR of older persons. The EU and its Member States have been active participants in these discussions. The two thematic sessions have been quite informative. For each of the two focus areas we have collected information and data about problem issues and possible positive approaches to them in numerous contributions.
In the session on “Social protection and social security (including social protection floors)” we heard about the great diversity in systems and practices, and of the importance of ensuring universal coverage that includes women and persons in non-traditional employment situations.
In the session on “Education, training, lifelong learning and capacity-building”, there was wide recognition of the need to continue to invest in older persons' education, and to ensure that education is available, accessible and affordable for all.
The discussion on normative inputs relating to the focus areas of the ninth session was interesting and has provided an additional opportunity for further exploration of key concerns. There remain, however, open questions in each of the two areas, as well as in other areas, as previous years' discussions showed. We recognize the increase in the overall number of submissions by stakeholders, even if only a relatively limited member of UN member states have submitted contributions to the call for “normative contents” on the issues examined at the 9th session. As we also mentioned last year at the closure of the session, and in order to continue to avoid any misunderstanding, and to help to continue to ensure a coherent and representative outcome, we would be in favour continuing discussions during preparations for the next session as to what type of request for inputs should be made on the focus areas for this year.
The EU is in favour of a number of steps that could be taken towards better mainstreaming the Human Rights of older persons through the work of the UN. UN agencies, many of which apply a human rights approach to their work already, could look more systematically at the rights of older persons when developing plans and activities. UN human rights special procedure mandate holders and treaty bodies should be encouraged to devote attention to the rights of older persons within their mandates, whilst fully respecting their independence and integrity.
Also the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process could be used to highlight human rights challenges facing older persons, both by member states and by other actors who engage in UPR sessions, such as NHRIs and civil society organisations. We note from the Independent Expert's last report to the Human Rights Council that less than 1 % of UPR recommendations are focused on the rights of older persons. The situation of older persons should be considered in the context of an overall assessment of the human rights situation in each country.
For the follow-up to this meeting it is important that the inputs received are further analysed and that the sensitive issues that need our priority attention are identified: this could include a description of each of those issues and of suitable human rights-based remedies to address them, as well as possible ways of monitoring progress by making better use of UN instruments such as the UPR process. We consider that the documents prepared for this meeting could be enhanced with such a further analysis of priority issues, a description of possible normative and policy gaps coupled with suggestions on how to address them.
As to the proposed focus areas for the eleventh working session in 2020, 'Access to justice' and 'Right to work and access to the labour market', the EU considers that both are very relevant areas. At the same time, we would like to recall that the analytical work on the focus areas of the last three OEWGA working sessions including this one is far from being completed and should continue.
Having listened to the many interventions during the past days, our understanding is that there is broad agreement on a pressing need for improvement in the situation of older people and the protection of their human rights. This requires, in parallel to national policies, a more effective use of existing human rights instruments to address the situation of older persons.
We must promote the respect of the human rights of all individuals, including the growing number of older people. The benefits of an effective implementation of Agenda 2030 should go to the many and not just to the few, and that certainly includes also our older citizens. Not only in the plenary sessions, but also in the side events, we have learned how a human rights based approach can be used to improve their situation.
I thank you, Mr. Chair.