20th December : another UN Day to celebrate

Vijay Naraidoo President for the Rights  of Older People of DIS-MOI Vijay Naraidoo President for the Rights of Older People of DIS-MOI

By virtue of Resolution 60/209 the UN General Assembly identified solidarity as one of the fundamental and universal values that should underlie relations between peoples in the 21st century, and in this regard decided to proclaim 20 December of each year International Human Solidarity Day. (Source: UN)

True it is on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10th December, people from different quarters have expressed solidarity with older people, notably, on their access to goods and services with a special accent on public transport. Access to inside busses for older people, for people moving on crutches, on wheel chairs, manual and motorized, has been in our list of claims, while we have been campaigning across the Republic.

The 20th of December is equally important though I sense a little bit less talked of, but still it is an opportunity to raise questions and find their answers. The UN has a list of to-do tasks on and beyond that Day: to

• celebrate our unity and diversity,
• remind governments to respect the commitments to international agreements,
• raise public awareness   of the importance of solidarity,
• encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication,
• encourage through action new initiatives for poverty eradication,

Our country is very special when it comes to solidarity in actions: the collections and distributions of goods to victims of floods, creating funds for victims of calamities overseas, or directly donating to countries in the brink of disaster.

Older People are Rights Owners

In the course of the on-going campaign of DIS-MOI for a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older People ‘solidarity’ has topped the list of our arguments with regards to human rights: dignity, respect, togetherness, education and life-long learning, leisure, autonomy and independence, equality, care, a paradigm shift from ‘‘older people asking for rights’’ to ‘‘older people being rights owners’’.

We have been talking about the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication. A concrete example is the demolition of houses in compounds which date as far as the early 60s undertaken by ‘‘Forces Vives de Rose-Belle’’ lead by Alain Auriant, Vice-President of DIS-MOI.

AU Protocol and Solidarity

We have no doubt the coming into reality a UN Convention for the rights of older persons. Additionally, we have since January 2016 a powerful instrument in the form of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. 

“With the adoption of this Protocol, Africa has demonstrated that it is committed to ensuring that the human rights of people of all ages are respected and protected, the AU Agenda 2063 and also in the Sustainable Development Goals.’’ (Ref: Dr Sidiki Kaloko, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs). Are enshrined in the Protocol a host of measures ranging from social protection, protection from abuse, protection of older women, care and support to support for older persons taking care of vulnerable children, protection of older persons with disabilities, and protection of older persons in conflict and disaster situations.

Exit 2019, welcome 2020

In DIS-MOI, we have the feeling of work accomplished to our satisfaction. We shall nor rest on our laurels as the defense and protection of human rights is a never ending process. We have had good response from our various audiences, first and foremost, older persons, then their families who have appreciated the value of old peoples’ autonomy and independence. We can say that the authorities have been attentive to our representations having given us space and time to speak our mind, the private sector, civil society organisations, trade unions and women’s associations, parishes and many more.

Our special thanks to HelpAge, GAROP, SGA Africa, IMPEA, IFA, KARIKA and Ageing Nepal.

A load of applause to Mr Ehshan Kodarbux, owner of this very supportive daily for publishing my “Monday Prayers on the Rights of Older Persons’’, and two members of the Editorial Team for closely monitoring the publication of my articles.

Everything being equal, we’ll resume in January.


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