Many of our readers have enquired with us on the importance of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA). Thus, the purpose of this article. Far from taking the paternity of having made familiar the abbreviation to a very large readership, DIS-MOI has created a sustained interest in the operations of this UN specialized group. For us in DIS-MOI, the countdown to the 11th session of the OEWGA starts on the 6th, two months ahead of the scheduled calendar from the 6th to the 9th of April.
The ageing planet poses a host of challenges in all continents including Africa and in its wake Mauritius. The UN, conscious of this phenomenon of ageing, resolved at its 2010 General Assembly to "establish an Open-Ended Working Group open to all Member States for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons by considering the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and identifying possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures.’’ It was also decided then that the OEWGA shall meet at the UN Head Quarters in New York.
At the invitation of the OEWGA , it is good to note that the National Human Rights Commission has made submissions as follows: Normative - Education and Social Protection and Substantive - Access to work, Access to the Labour Market, and Access to Justice.
DIS-MOI has made submissions as follows: Normative: Education and Social Protection, and Substantive: Access to Justice and Right to work.
By the way, we have been pleased to read the submissions of the Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) on both categories, substantive and normative.
This will definitely enrich the discussions among delegates.
The OEWGA is the UN platform where discussions have evolved around the pertinence of a new UN Convention for the Rights of Older People. Strong arguments have been forwarded and it is gratifying to share the position of Government at the 10th OEWGA last year.
" We all know that the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing was established by the General Assembly Resolution 65/182 with the objective of strengthening protection for the human rights of older persons and today we are ending the 10th session. We will consider the programme for the 11th session, but what I want to convey is that of course we fully support the Open-Ended Working Group and agree that we should have an instrument that caters for the elderly legally but time is of the essence Mr Chair. So we need to see how to move the process forward and when we look at the General Assembly Resolution 67/139 of 28th December 2012 particular to OP1 and OP 2, the General Assembly has requested the Working Group to come up with a proposal containing the main elements to be included in an international legal instrument.
So my delegation is wondering whether we should come up quite rapidly with those proposals and whether we should also envisage coming up with a preparatory committee that will eventually set the stage for an intergovernmental conference because time is of the essence and we really need to move forward and walk the talk ’’. (Source: UN TV)
Reinforcing our position
In view of the 11th OEWGA session, DIS-MOI is, under the auspices of the Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS), convening a coalition of NGOs to a second Multi-Stakeholders Meeting, as was done last year, to spell anew our support to this stand and request Government to reaffirm its position, that is, the time is ripe for a new convention to better protect and defend older peoples’ rights.
Our country is at the avant-garde in a host of social protection and social security policies. Older persons enjoy, inter alia, free medical service, free transport service, non-contributory old age pension, residential care homes and a comprehensive legislation for their protection."
Our country is at the avant-garde in a host of social protection and social security policies. Older persons enjoy, inter alia, free medical service, free transport service, non-contributory old age pension, residential care homes and a comprehensive legislation for their protection. Other services add up in terms of carers’ services, medical home visits, residential seminars in elaborated and user friendly recreational centres, Elderly Day Care and more importantly the company of friends.
Provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all our human rights in older age"
True, cases of abuse, violence, ageism, loneliness, nutrition have to be catered for as they are to be addressed in an affluent or less developed society. As regards Mauritius, one can safely say a new UN Convention will further provide for the protection, defense, respect of the rights of older people to autonomy, independence, right of choice, right of decision.
A new convention
It is expected that a new Convention will, inter alia, " provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all our human rights in older age. It will prohibit all forms of discrimination in older age in every aspect of our lives, articulate how each human right specifically applies to us in older age, and will provide for a strong implementation, monitoring and accountability system ’’ (Source: HelpAge)
We want to be part of the change and be the change!
By : Vijay Naraidoo
President for the Rights
of Older People of DIS-MOI
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