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NGO Morning Briefing on the margins of the IX Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing

Intervention by the Permanent Representative of the Argentine Republic, Amb. Martín García Moritán

July 24

Thank you very much Rosita.

Dear colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning to you all.

It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today, before the opening of the ninth session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.

Allow me to thank the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons (GAROP) and the NGO Committee on Ageing for organizing, one more year, this series of morning briefings in parallel to the session of the Working Group, which we believe are fundamental for strategizing and coordinating efforts throughout the week in order to try to achieve the best possible outcome out of each session.

In my capacity as Chair of the Open-ended Working Group I´m happy to share with you that this year we will again focus our work and deliberations based on the new approach we agreed upon two years ago at the seventh session, which is to turn our attention to specific issues that affect the full and effective enjoyment of the human rights of older persons globally.

We are aware that this progressive approach may not be the ideal one, or the fastest one, to address the gaps in the protection of the human rights of older persons which we have identified long time ago, but we must also realize that unfortunately there is still no consensus among the international community, particularly among Member States, with regards on the best way to address those gaps. That is the reason why, not without great efforts, we were able to persuade Member States to come to the discussion table and to engage constructively in a debate around the concrete areas and issues which affect the enjoyment of the human rights of older persons.

In that framework, this session we will focus on two very important issues, which are the autonomy and independence of older persons, as well as their long term and palliative care. We will have, besides the general debate, two day-long interactive discussions regarding these focus areas. They will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with three panelists at each segment, followed by interactive discussions. I´m sure that by now you will have read and carefully reviewed the analytic papers which were prepared on the basis of the inputs received on the two focus areas, in order to guide our discussions, and we thank you dearly for having contributed with your very substantive inputs.

Furthermore, I´m also happy to announce that during this session we will have a new segment for an interactive discussion on the issue of normative inputs to address the shortcomings in the protection of the human rights of older persons on the two focus areas of last year: “Equality and non-discrimination” and “Violence, neglect and abuse”. Let me share with you that it was very difficult to obtain the entire Membership´s agreement to conduct this interactive discussion, and we had to overcome a very strong opposition in order to make it a reality. But we believe that it is a fundamental step in the right direction, since we need to continue working towards developing concrete outcomes out of our substantive discussions at each session. In this sense, the Secretariat prepared a compilation of the normative inputs received, and we hope to count with your active and substantive participation in this segment, which will not count with panel presentations, but it will be purely an interactive discussion within the Working Group.

Finally, let me once again express my deepest appreciation to the active role and contribution of civil society organizations to the work of the Group, you are certainly one of the main driving forces behind our efforts to enhance the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons. We therefore hope to continue counting with your support and active participation during all the instances of the session: general debate, interactive discussions on the focus areas, discussion on the normative inputs, and during the discussion on the way forward.

Regarding this last point, the way forward, let me share in advance that the Bureau held informal consultations with Member States during the inter-sessional period, and has proposed to select the issues of “Education, training, lifelong learning and capacity-building”, and “Social protection and social security (including social protection floors)” as focus areas of the X session to be held in 2019.

I thank you all very much for inviting me today, and if you allow me, I would like to conclude making a few remarks also on behalf of the Group of Friends of Older Persons, of which Argentina is a member.

The Group of Friends really appreciates the efforts and the collaboration of civil society organizations in advancing the human rights of older persons, with the ultimate goal of achieving a convention. As mentioned before, and in order to overcome the fragmentation of the Membership of the UN as well as the strong opposition against the development of an international legally binding instrument in the matter, we understand that the Working Group had to take a more progressive approach, which differs a lot from the pace and the direction we would all like to follow. However, we are convinced that we should not soften our stand in favor of a convention. Moreover, we believe that the discussions on the focus areas, as well as that on the normative inputs, will serve as platforms for displaying loudly and clearly what we many of us already know for a number of years: that the current framework is incomplete, inadequate and incoherent and that it leaves older persons in a situation of vulnerability, and that the only way to address it is by setting new international legally binding standards.

In that sense, the Members of the Group of Friends will actively engage in all of the instances of the session, in order to support those ideas. We hope to be able to count with your support, especially in the interactive discussions on the focus areas, as well as in the discussion on the normative inputs and the discussion on the way forward. Regarding this last point, we believe it´s time to push toward the idea of the Open-ended Working Group having some sort of outcome out of each session, which could feed into other processes of the General Assembly. It is fundamental, now that the Working Group is carefully discussing the particular areas where the human rights of older persons are unprotected by the existing framework, to come up with negotiated outcomes out of each session in order to reflect our common points and conclusions and move forward the discussion.

I will leave it at that for now. And on behalf of the Group of Friends I thank you very much for your support.

Thank you very much.

Fondo argentino de cooperación sur-sur y triangular