On 27 September 2013, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 24/20 without a vote, thereby establishing the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. On 2 June 2014, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons assumed her functions.
On 29 September 2016, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 33/5, entitled 'The human rights of older persons', without a vote, recognizing that greater attention is needed to the specific challenges affecting older persons, including in the field of human rights.
On 26 September 2019, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 42/12, extending the mandate and the terms set out by resolution 33/5.
The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons is mandated to:
- Continue to assess the implementation of national, regional and international standards relevant to the rights of older persons and to identify, exchange and promote best practices relating to the promotion and protection of these rights;
- Report on developments, challenges and protection gaps in the realization of the rights of older persons, including as input to the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, and to make recommendations to the Human Rights Council in this regard;
- Gather, request, receive and exchange information and communications from and with States and other relevant sources, including older persons, their representative organizations and other civil society organizations, on violations of the rights of older persons;
- Conduct, facilitate and support the provision of advisory services, technical assistance, capacity-building and international cooperation in support of national efforts for the effective realization of the rights of older persons;
- Raise awareness of the challenges faced in the realization of the human rights of older persons and of the positive contribution of older persons to society, and to provide them with information about their rights;
- Engage in dialogue and to consult with States and other relevant stakeholders, including United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, older persons, civil society organizations and academic institutions;
- Work in cooperation with States, assisting them when requested, in order to foster the implementation of measures that contribute to the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons;
- Integrate a gender and disability perspective throughout the work of the mandate, and to address multiple, intersecting and aggravated forms of discrimination faced by older persons;
- Work in close coordination, while avoiding unnecessary duplication, with the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Human Rights Council, relevant United Nations bodies and the treaty bodies.
Methods of work
In the discharge of the mandate, the Independent Expert:
- Receives information from diverse sources including States, NGOs and other civil society organizations, United Nations agencies, regional and other inter-governmental organizations;
- Communicates with States and other concerned parties with regard to alleged cases of violations of the human rights of older persons and other issues related to the mandate;
- Submits annual reports on the activities and thematic issues to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly;
- Undertakes, at the invitation of Governments, country visits to study national legislation, policy, regulatory frameworks, institutions and practices, in seeking to identify best practices and gaps in the implementation of the existing law;
- Participates in the annual session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.
Historical background to the establishment of the mandate
- In 2009, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee submitted a working paper to the Human Rights Council on “The necessity of a human rights approach and effective United Nations mechanism for the human rights of the older person”. The paper highlights the importance of conducting a full study on discrimination in the context of the human rights of older persons with consideration of the establishment of an international convention on the human rights of older persons.
- In December 2010, in accordance with its resolution 65/182, the General Assembly established an Open-ended Working Group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the human rights protection of older persons. This is the first-ever international forum with such a focus. Its mandate is to consider the existing international framework, its gaps and ways to address those, including, as appropriate, the consideration of further instruments and measures.
- In 2011, OHCHR contributed to the report of the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly on “Follow-up to Second World Assembly on Ageing”. A questionnaire was sent to Member States and stakeholders soliciting observations and information on existing legislation, policies and programmes related to various human rights issues concerning older persons. The report contains an overview of some of the challenges faced by older persons in the enjoyment of their rights, and outlines examples of government responses to those challenges including through an illustrative collection of legislation, policies and programmes.
- In 2012, in her annual report to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the High Commissioner for Human Rights focused on the human rights of older persons. The report provides an overview of existing international instruments and the gaps in the international protection regime. It recommended, inter alia, the creation of a new special procedures mandate holder.
- In April 2013, pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 21/23, OHCHR organized a public consultation on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons, in order to receive information and share good practice on the matter. A summary report was prepared thereon and submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 24th session in September 2013. The conclusion reached at the consultation was that, “while most international human rights instruments are applicable to all age groups, including older persons, a number of human rights issues that are particularly relevant to older persons have not been given sufficient attention either in the wording of existing human rights instruments or in the practice of human rights bodies and mechanisms.”