Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Ageing: Selection of focus areas for the next session

New York, 07/07/2017 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 171206_1
Statements on behalf of the EU

European Union Closing Statement delivered by Johan ten Geuzendam, Directorate of Equality, DG Justice and Consumers, European Commission at the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing on Item 7: Other Matters; Discussion on the way forward; Selection of focus areas for the next working session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.

– Check against delivery –

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 more than 60 countries, regions, NGOs and NHRIs. 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 crucial to inform our discussions.

Mr. Chair,

In this eighth session we had the opportunity to hear about steps undertaken by states at the national level and in regional processes in order to promote the human rights 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 the two focus areas we have collected information and data about key issues and positive approaches to them.

Yesterday afternoon we had a constructive exchange on equality and non-discrimination. A number of questions emerged, which will require careful consideration as we move forward. We must consider the question of the legal prohibition of age discrimination, and what conditions might be applied to allow exceptions to such a rule.

This morning we looked at elder abuse, and the impact it has on victims. It will be important, as we build on the discussions in this session, to look in more detail at best practices on prevention, protection and support services, and to analyse the possible approaches to criminalising forms of elder abuse.

It will be useful to see what guidance is available within the UN context, including best practices and lessons learnt, on the prevention and prohibition of age discrimination and on how to define forms of elder abuse.

There are 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 ensure that they are also looking at the rights of older persons when developing plans and activities. UN human rights special procedure mandate holders and treaty bodies could usefully 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. 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 collected material will be further analysed and that the sensitive issues that need our priority attention are identified: description of the issue, suitable human rights based remedies that deserve to be promoted, possible ways of monitoring progress by making better use of UN instruments, such as the UPR process. We are therefore looking forward to an enhanced version of the compilation document prepared for this meeting containing such a further analysis of priority issues, coupled with suggestions on how to tackle them.  For the preparation of next year’s meeting it would be essential that the focus areas are chosen at an early stage giving us more time to prepare substantive contributions ahead of the meeting.

Mr. Chair,

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 human rights situation of older people. A more effective use of existing human rights instruments would make a contribution in this regard.

The benefits of the positive economic development in the EU 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.

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