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“We cannot afford to leave behind hundreds of millions of older persons,” says UN rights expert

UN International Day of Older Persons

GENEVA (1st October 2014) – The new United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, calls on all States to ensure that the concerns of older persons are reflected in the post-2015 development agenda in a cross-cutting manner.

On occasion of the 24th UN International Day of Older Persons, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte urges Governments around the world to promote full inclusion of older persons in society by combatting ageism, age discrimination and stigmatization.

“We can turn a blind eye to many issues as if they do not concern us. But getting old is part of life and we will all pay the price for our inaction.

Today there are around 700 million persons aged 60 years and over and it is estimated that this figure will double by 2025 and will reach nearly two billion by 2050 - the vast majority of them in the developing world. By 2050, older persons will constitute 20 per cent of the global population.

A demographic revolution is underway and we cannot afford to leave behind millions of older persons. Age, as well as gender and where people live, affect the enjoyment of human rights by older persons, who are often stigmatized as ‘non-productive’ or ‘irrelevant’.

I call on all States to combat ageism, age discrimination and stigmatization, which are among the obstacles older persons face in the enjoyment of their rights, in order to achieve and sustain the inclusion of older persons in society.

Today, on the International Day of Older Persons, I urge all Governments to ensure that the concerns of older persons are reflected in the post-2015 development agenda in a cross-cutting manner.

The post-2015 development agenda presents a unique opportunity to ensure a rights-based approach to older persons and can help changing attitudes and perceptions from older persons being considered recipients of welfare to rights holders with responsibilities.

Ageing is not an affliction, it is an opportunity to make use of resources acquired over the life course, and older persons all around the world make significant contributions to society.”

Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. As a mandate holder, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte is independent from any government or organisation, and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/IE/Pages/IEOlderPersons.aspx

Human rights of older persons: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/Pages/OlderPersonsIndex.aspx

For further information and media inquiries, please contact Khaled Hassine (+41 22 917 93 67 / khassine@ohchr.org) or write to olderpersons@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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