The eighth session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) will take place from 5th-7th July 2017 in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In this eighth session, UN Member States will engage in substantive discussions about two areas of human rights where the protection of older people’s rights requires greater attention:
- Equality and non-discrimination
- Neglect, violence and abuse
This focus on a more substantive debate on specific areas of older people’s rights is a significant development in the OEWG process. It offers an important opportunity to build a stronger understanding and consensus among UN Member States about these specific areas of older people’s rights and how they might be addressed in a new international legal instrument.
In preparation for this eighth session, the UN Secretariat called on ECOSOC and OEWG-accredited non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide submissions by 5th May 2017 on these two areas of human rights. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) with ‘A’ status and Member States have also received a similar call for submissions.
NEW! The more detailed Proposed Organisation of Work for the eighth OEWG session is now available on the official website: https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/eighthsession.shtml.
All of the submissions received from Member States, NHRIs, NGOs and UN bodies can also be found on the official website link above.
Two longer versions of the joint NGO submissions can also be viewed here:
How can GAROP members engage in the OEWG process?
Be active at the national level, particularly now in the run-up to the OEWG session
- Even if you are not able to attend the session in New York, you can still support a more successful OEWG session through your activities in your country over the next few weeks. Governments’ policy positions are made in the capitals and national level advocacy is crucial. It will be important to focus discussions at national level on the two areas of rights to be debated in the eighth OEWG session – you can refer to the UN guiding questions here. You may find it helpful to refer to the written submissions (see here).
- World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is on the 15th June and is very timely this year given that neglect, violence and abuse is one of the focus issues for discussion at the eighth OEWG from 5th-7th July. This could be a valuable opportunity to engage your government and other key stakeholders in discussions about these rights and how to better protect them. HelpAge International has produced a report about older women’s experiences of the two areas of rights in 19 different countries and will be using this report to inform discussions at national level around WEAAD and in the run-up to the eighth OEWG. You can read this report here. Join the conversation on Twitter using #WEAAD, #WEAAD2017 and #OEWG8 and follow the GAROP Secretariat (@GAROP_Sec).
- Since December 2016, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) with ‘A’ status have been granted new participatory and accredited status in the OEWG. Some GAROP members in different regions have found that organising tripartite meetings at national level involving governments, NHRIs, and older people and NGOs is a very useful way of exchanging expertise, building a common understanding and ensuring that older people’s voices and experiences are at the heart of the process.
- If you are not familiar with NHRIs you can find out more, including about the NHRI in your country, on the Global Alliance of NHRIs website and directory: http://nhri.ohchr.org/EN/Contact/NHRIs/Pages/default.aspx
- You may find other useful tactics and ideas for your national level engagement in the Outcome Report from the NGO workshop that was held in New York last year ahead of the seventh session of the OEWG.
Inform your governments and encourage them to participate
- Encourage your government to register and participate actively in the eighth OEWG. The official communications to Member States also included an invitation for them to register participants for the eighth OEWG session. Encourage your government contacts to register and participate in this eighth session. You may need to make them aware that they will not receive any further formal invitation and that they should now plan their attendance and send instructions to their Permanent UN Missions in New York. You can play an important role in making sure that the information from the OEWG bureau reaches the right people in your governments in the capital in time for them to respond, as this does not always happen.
- You could urge them to consult older people, civil society and other key stakeholders in preparing any statements for the eighth OEWG session. You could encourage them to send an expert from the capitals to attend the session and ask them to include an older person or civil society representative in their government delegation.
- An inter-ministerial approach may be required at national level – for example it may be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry for Culture, Ministry of Social Services, and/or the Ministry of Interior, or others in your country that will be responsible for this issue.
What can GAROP members who are accredited the OEWG do?
In addition to the national level engagement outlined above, those GAROP members who already have OEWG accreditation can also:
Prepare early for your participation in New York
- For those OEWG-accredited members who will be attending the eighth OEWG session in New York, there are a number of things that you can do now to prepare for the session itself. Be mindful that speaking time at the session may be quite limited and therefore any oral interventions by NGOs should be focused on the two specific areas of rights that have been identified. It is useful to start planning and researching these interventions in good time.
- Concise statements (2-3 minutes) that add substantive content and bring valuable evidence from your national experience about the two areas of rights are much more likely to have an impact on the debate and the wider process.
- Accredited organisations can also submit longer written documents, reports or studies, relevant to the specific items due to be discussed in advance of the next OEWG session and these will be shared on the official website.
- NEW! When making your travel arrangements, please note the following two meetings will take place in New York before and after the eighth OEWG session:
- A preparatory workshop will take place on Monday 3rd July for Civil Society Organisations and National Human Rights Institutions. An invitation including the draft programme can be viewed here and you can register to attend on the event website: http://garop_ngocoa-ny.eventbrite.com. We will produce and share a workshop report in due course. You can also follow the updates on Twitter using #OEWG8.
- A consultation meeting for GAROP members only will be held on Saturday 8th July from 09:00-13:00. at AARP, 750 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017 (between 46th and 47th street on 3rd Ave). A draft programme for this meeting can be found here. If you are planning to attend, you must inform the GAROP Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that this GAROP members meeting is part of a wider consultation exercise over the next few weeks that will also include a short survey to give all members the opportunity to feed in to these discussions.