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Younger generations must act now to stamp out human rights denials in old age – UN expert

Call to action

29 September 2017

United Nations International Day of Older Persons, Sunday 1 October, 2017 

GENEVA (29 September 2017) – The UN Independent Expert on older people’s rights, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, is marking the International day of Older Persons (1 October) by urging those in power today to provide decent futures for older people – noting that they themselves will be affected by the issue in years to come. Her statement is as follows:

“A demographic revolution is under way and we cannot continue to make commitments to older people and not follow through on them.

Unlike action on climate change, which will be our legacy for future generations, young people in positions of power today will themselves not escape ageism, discrimination and the denial of human rights in older age unless we recognize now that there is a need for concrete action.

I call on States to step up their efforts to determine the best way to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older people and to consider the various proposals that have been made, including the elaboration of a dedicated instrument on the rights of older people.

Older people should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations.

They should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities.

Looking at the situation of older people worldwide today, this sounds like a Utopia. Yet States made these commitments as early as 1991 when adopting the United Nations Principles on Older Persons. We need to act without delay to make this Utopia a reality.”


Ms. 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.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read more on the human rights of older persons

For further information and media inquiries, please contact Khaled Hassine (+41 22 917 93 67 / [email protected]) or email [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / [email protected])

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