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International Standards and Principles

Human rights are by definition universal. By virtue of the universal scope of all rights, the whole range of internationally recognized human rights standards and principles, as contained in core international human rights treaties, also covers and protects older persons.

The Covenants, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights include highly relevant provisions for the protection of human rights of older persons, such as the rights to health, to an adequate standard of living, to freedom from torture, legal capacity and equality before the law.

Other instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) also contain provisions which are applicable to older persons within their relevant scope.  The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and the members of their families (ICMW), article 7, includes “age” in the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights developed a background paper entitled “Human rights of older persons: International Principles and Standards” (PDF) for the Expert Group Meeting that took place 25 & 26 May 2010.

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