The NGO Committee on Ageing, NY, works to raise world awareness of the opportunities and challenges of global ageing. The Committee advocates within the United Nations community to further integrate ageing in UN policies and programs and encourages member states to include ageing needs in social and economic policy considerations.
The goal of the Committee is to further the United Nations mission of building a society for all ages.
The issue of ageing was first addressed in 1948, when the Economic and Social Council conducted a world-wide study on ageing. The first major speech on older persons was made in the General Assembly in 1969. Two years later, a resolution was adopted requesting the Secretary General to investigate the ageing situation in the world. At the time, the Ageing Unit was established, and a number of UN studies followed. The findings of these reports provided startling demographic projections. It suggested that between 1970 and the turn of the century, the developed regions of the world would see a 50% increase in the number of older citizens. For less developed countries, the increase was projected to be 150%. It eventually gave rise to the birth of the NGO Committee on Ageing in New York.
In 1982, the First United Nations World Assembly on Ageing (WAA) was held in Vienna. The NGO Committees on Ageing in New York and Vienna provided input and leadership into this historic event and the document, "The International Plan of Action on Ageing." The General Assembly, in December 1990, endorsed an action programme on ageing for 1992 and beyond as outlined in the report of the Secretary-General and designated October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons. This day is commemorated each year by a special event at the United Nations Headquarters, led in part by the Committee. Appreciating the tremendous diversity in the situation of old persons in December 1991, the General Assembly crafted the 18 point “Principles for Older Persons.” Noting the unprecedented ageing of populations taking place throughout the world, the General Assembly adopted a Proclamation on Ageing at its 42nd plenary meeting, 16 October 1992, and declared the year 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. Due to a heightened interest in ageing, in 2000 the General Assembly called for a Second World Assembly on Ageing, which was held in Madrid, Spain in April. 2002.
The NGO Committee on Ageing played a major role in the parallel NGO World Forum for the Second World Assembly on Ageing (WAA), attended by roughly 3,500 individuals, representing nearly 1000 organizations from 116 countries. In addition, the Committee participated in reviewing the language of what became known as the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). The Committee continues to have a position in the development of the Berlin Regional Implementation Strategy (ECA Region), which followed the Second World Assembly. The NGO Committee in New York maintains contact with its sister Committees in Vienna and Geneva, and sustains a cooperative relationship with other NGO committees which work on diverse and cross-cutting issues. The Committee’s regular monthly programs address leading-edge issues as diverse as elder abuse, sustainable development, employment, multigenerational relationships, and HIV/AIDS. In its ongoing efforts the Committee continues to develop relationships with UN Missions and Secretariat Focal Points on Ageing and participate in various UN conferences, briefings, seminars and meetings, bringing to the attention of member states, governments and civil society the vital importance of the demographics of ageing and contingent issues.
A United Nations Convention for the Rights of Older Persons:
The New York NGO Committee on Ageing works collaboratively to promote and support a United Nations (UN) Convention for the Rights of Older Persons. The UN Convention, a treaty among nations, would ensure that older person around have the right to live with dignity and peace and that governments put in place appropriate national policies and programs that allow persons to participate and live as an active member of society and protect them from discrimination.
We believe that, without a Convention, the rights of older persons will continue to be disregarded and abused particularly in the areas of poverty, social isolation, health care and physical, mental and financial maltreatment. Although much progress has been made around the world, older persons continued to be viewed as welfare recipients or as a burden on society, instead of vibrant, active and contributing persons with knowledge, skills and experience that cannot be found elsewhere in any other sector of society.
The purpose of this effort to promote a convention on the rights of older persons, is to engage as many NGOs worldwide and to develop a network of information sharing (positive and negative), evidence of age discrimination as well as good practices of advocacy tools used to positively influence national governments in support of the rights of older persons. We also want to create a mechanism to ensure that NGOs around the world have a forum to voice their opinions and come together to generate broad support for a Convention for the Rights of Older persons at both the UN and national level. This forum will also be include, and facilitate a dialogue with, governments, academia, research institutes, and the private sector. For more information, contact the NGO Committee on Ageing.