Petition on human rights

Petition on human rights

The Australian Government must pro-actively support the advancing of UN processes examining a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

With the Australian Federal election approaching, we as signatories call on the potential parties of government to commit to work constructively with civil society organisations to support the work of the United Nations' Open Ended Working Group for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons.

The time is now for a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

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Human rights advocates around the world have long argued that ageism is a barrier to older people receiving protections through general human rights provisions.

In many parts of the world we have witnessed the diminishing status of people as they age, pushing them to the margins as rights holders. As advocates for children, people with disability, and those who experience racial or gender discrimination have already found, general human rights protections are no substitute for specificity in international human rights instruments and this has been reflected in the unanimous passage of legislation prohibiting age discrimination in every Australian jurisdiction. 

Historically, Australia has played an important role in leading the world on passing and implementing conventions designed to dismantle prejudice and discrimination. However, thus far, Australia has not played a comparable role in working for the establishment of an International Convention on the Rights of Older People. It's time to step up.

If the need for a Convention was not already clear, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that when the rubber hits the road, the human rights of older people can be readily ignored. There is a growing recognition that the pandemic has highlighted the urgency of strengthening rights protection - in Australia and around the world.

With the Australian Federal election approaching, we are petitioning for the next elected government to work constructively with civil society organisations to support the work of the United Nations' Open Ended Working Group for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons.

Both sides of politics have a proud record of support for the development of international human rights standards and a new UN Convention would provide people around the world – including governments, service providers, businesses, civil society and the broader community – with the clarity we need to build a more equal society and ensure respect for our human rights as we age

In 2010 the General Assembly of the United Nations established an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. The main goal of the OEWG, which has now met annually since inception, is to consider the existing human rights framework in relation to the rights of older persons and to identify possible gaps and how to address them. This process should lead to support for the development of a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, and the Australian government has an important role in ensuring this happens.

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