CHISINAU (16 November 2023) – Moldova has made considerable efforts to address the needs of its rapidly ageing population, a UN expert said today, calling for a human rights-based approach in the development and implementation of national legislation, policies, programmes and practices affecting older persons.
“Moldova is at a turning point in adapting to demographic transformation and making the necessary changes that will allow older persons to enjoy a better standard of living,” said Claudia Mahler, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, in a statement at the end of a 10-day visit to the country.
Mahler welcomed the recent adoption by the Government of a Programme for Active and Healthy Ageing (2023-2027). “In a country where older persons are highly dependent on social benefits as their main source of income, I commend the increase in the minimum pension rate in 2022,” she said.
“Mainstreaming ageing goes beyond social inclusion and it is essential that older persons are recognised as rights holders,” the expert said. She warned that all the human rights challenges posed by an ageing and shrinking society are mainly seen as social and economic issues, which tend to create dependency rather than an enabling and empowering environment for older persons.
Mahler urged the Government of Moldova to review its vision of ageing and adopt a human rights-based approach when developing and implementing domestic legislation, as well as policies, programmes and practices affecting older persons.
The Independent Expert pointed to recent and ongoing crises, including the energy crisis and the refugee crisis caused by the Russian Federation’s full-scale armed attack on Ukraine, to explain how inequalities for older persons have worsened and become more visible over the past two years.
“Many structural barriers persist and prevent older persons from fully enjoying their human rights,” Mahler said, pointing out older persons’ economic security, as well as their rights to equal access to the labour market, quality support and care, an adequate standard of living, including health and housing, and limited participation in decision-making.
The expert said that people who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, such as older women, older LGBT people, older persons of ethnic and linguistic minorities, including older Roma people, and older persons in care institutions and prisons, are further at risk of age discrimination and being left behind.
“I hope that the preparation of a new National Human Rights Programme (PNADO) for the period 2023-2027 will contribute to strengthening human rights commitments at the international and regional levels, including for older persons,” Mahler said. “It would also contribute to Moldova’s European Union integration process, initiated in 2022,” she said.
The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report of her findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2024.
Ms. Claudia Mahler (Austria) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2020. She has been working for the German Institute for Human Rights as a senior researcher in the field of economic, social and cultural rights since 2010. She was also a visiting professor at the Alice Salomon Hochschule in 2020-2021. From 2001 to 2009, Ms. Mahler conducted research at the Human Rights Centre of the University of Potsdam where her main fields were in human rights education, minority rights and the law of asylum. In 2000, she received her doctoral degree and was appointed as Vice President of the Human Rights Commission for Tyrol and Vorarlberg.
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.
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