‘The Council of Europe Recommendation is an excellent basis to promote the rights of older persons and to raise awareness of the need to adopt a human rights approach when designing policies, for example to avoid the shortcomings that we are facing at the moment due to the crisis and austerity measures, as it recognizes older people as equal rights holders, instead of mere welfare recipients’, says Marjan Sedmak, President of AGE Platform Europe.
In adopting, on 19th February, CM Recommendation (2014) 2 on the promotion of human rights of older persons, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe reaffirms the rights of older people and recommends a range of measures to be taken by Member States in order to combat discrimination based on old age and covers the major challenges facing older persons, under the following chapters: non-discrimination; autonomy and participation; protection from violence and abuse; social protection and employment; care; and administration of justice.
Inspired by the Accompanying Guide of the European Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Need of Long-term Care and Assistance developed in 2010 by the Eustacea project, the Recommendation is completed by a list of good practices submitted by Member States and civil society, as well as an Explanatory Memorandum.
The Recommendation proclaims that all human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to older persons on an equal basis with others and aims at finding the right balance between the autonomy and the protection of older persons. Adopted by the Council of Europe’s decision-making body, it asserts that the rights of older persons are still often ignored and sometimes totally denied and challenges ageing stereotypes. Although it is a non-binding document, the Recommendation complements existing human rights instruments and by interpreting current State obligations in the context of ageing, it has a real potential for impact on the ground.
‘The Council of Europe Recommendation is an important policy and advocacy tool and we hope that it will help put the rights of older persons firmly in the EU and international agenda’, adds Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General. ‘In order to efficiently tackle demographic change and make human rights universal in practice, Member States’ commitment to protect and promote the rights of older people must be unwavering’.
AGE has been actively involved in the Drafting Group (CDDH-AGE), which elaborated the Recommendation and strongly welcomes the approach of the Council of Europe, which allowed a genuine consultation of civil society. Our involvement was instrumental in including reference to social and economic rights, improving the text on autonomy and care from a pragmatic perspective and adding a provision saying that older persons should be consulted prior to the adoption of measures that have an impact on the enjoyment of their human rights.
The adoption of the Council of Europe Recommendation is very timely, as it feeds in the global discussions around a UN convention and the appointment of the UN Independent Expert on the Rights of Older Persons, end of March 2014. It follows AGE’s call for a more effective mechanism to promote and protect the rights of older persons, by setting up a multi-stakeholder dialogue group and improving coherence between the EU’s internal and external action.