THIRD SESSION, OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON AGING
August 21-24, 2012
U.S. Closing Statement, delivered by Courtney R. Nemroff, ECOSOC Counselor, US Mission to the United Nations
Friday, August 24
The United States thanks Argentina for chairing this Third Working Group session, and has listened with interest to the panelists, member states, and civil society groups offering their views. We would like to address a topic of much discussion: whether it is advisable to pursue a UN convention on the rights of older persons.
Our overall goal should be to have states protect the rights of older persons. And this must be done in a timely way, to respond to the challenges older persons face now. After three Open-Ended Working Group sessions, no consensus has emerged on whether a new UN convention is the best way to do this. As many states and NGOs have pointed out, the rights of older persons are protected by current human rights law. It is not clear that a convention would be the best way to ensure implementation of these rights. A new convention would take sustained time and resources to develop. The U.S. government therefore continues to favor exploring all possible options to protect the rights of older persons, while not ruling out the possibility of a new UN convention.
The United States continues to favor focusing on identifying gaps and best practices to address them. The September meeting in Vienna on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing offers an excellent opportunity for that. The U.S. delegation to that meeting will be reporting on all ten priority areas, including the topic of “realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all older persons.” After the Madrid review and appraisal and the discussion of the report to the Commission on Social Development in 2013, we will have a better idea of what is needed to best protect the rights of older persons. In addition to a convention, one idea to consider might be the creation of a special procedure or independent expert on the rights of older persons, who could identify problems with the implementation of older persons’ rights and formulate best practices for addressing them.
There are also actions that can be taken now. Provisions in existing treaties applicable to older persons should be implemented. States Parties’ reports to existing treaty bodies could include specific information on implementation of their provisions with regard to older persons. Existing Special Rapporteurs could examine ageing issues within their mandates. And States and NGOs can discuss best practices, as they have been doing over the past few days.
Regarding the separate initiatives within the OAS and ECLAC, we would caution against proceeding with activities that would potentially be inconsistent with the work of the Open-Ended Working Group. ECLAC and OAS nations should await the results of the Open-Ended Working Group before deciding how to move forward. We firmly believe that a multilateral process involving member states and civil society representatives from all geographic regions would have more credibility and support than a regional effort.
We have heard much about the challenges and difficulties facing older persons in their day-to-day lives, as well as many interesting best practices from various countries. We would like to encourage governments and civil society to put into practice steps to improve the living conditions and protect the rights of older persons, so that they may overcome those challenges and continue to contribute to the richness of society. Thank you for your attention.
OEWGOnAgeing,August2012,USClosingStatement.doc (“Ageing, OEWG August 2012 session”); 8/24/2012
DRAFTED: IO/HRH: Linda Lum (x7-1655)
APPROVED: IO: PSchriefer ok
CLEARED: IO/HRH: PFrayne ok
DRL/MLGA: JLevin ok
L/HRR: EAswad ok
L/HRR: NSheth ok
D(B): AHerrup ok
P: SGray ok
USUN/ECOSOC: CNemroff ok
USUN/ECOSOC: LPhipps ok
HHS/ACL: EWalker ok