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. Guiding questions for these submissions can be found on the official website: https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/eighthsession.shtml.
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 or make a formal submission, you can still support a more successful OEWG session through your activities in your country over the next few weeks. In the next few weeks before the eighth session it will be important to focus discussions at national level on the two areas of rights to be debated in the eighth session.
- 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 7th session of the OEWG.
Inform your governments and encourage them to participate
- Share the information about the call for submissions and the official letter with your government contacts in the capital city: https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/documents/eighth/Letter-Member-States.pdf.
- Make your government aware of the call for submissions deadline of 5th May and encourage them to contribute. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Apply for accreditation to the OEWG
- The deadline for accrediting for the eighth OEWG session is 22nd May 2017. Find out more about the benefits of accreditation and how to apply [here].
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 a submission
- OEWG-accredited NGOs can submit inputs of maximum two pages in length (or 800 words) by 5th May 2017 on the two areas of rights above. The UN Secretariat will then prepare a compilation working document containing all of the inputs submitted to inform the substantive discussions of the eighth session of the OEWG. A strong response from NGOs, Member States and NHRIs will support a more robust and informed debate at the eighth session.
- You can refer to the guiding questions provided on the official website where you can also find instructions on how to make your submission: https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/eighthsession.shtml.
Accredited members – start preparing now for your participation in New York
- For those OEWG-accredited members who will be attending the 8th 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.
- When making your travel arrangements, please note that there is a preparatory meeting being planned for 3rd July for civil society. This will be a full day meeting and will be open to GAROP members and wider civil society. We will share further information and updates about this meeting and other events taking place that week in New York in due course so that you can build these into your schedule.