Human Rights for Older People

Sue Lillyman, IAH Trustee

Although there is evidence of good care and some equality for older people we still hear accounts in the media about how they continue to experience social exclusion, marginalisation and oppression at an international level. These are often, (according to Duffy et al 2012), due to the negative stereotypical views of older people that are prevalent in society. Dabove in 2013 called for an international convention on human rights for older people. Whilst she questions whether older people should have different rights she suggests that there is a need for a convention with more consistence to the tools and institutions, principles, rules laws and judicial practices that are accessed and available to the older person. She highlights the issues of capacity, empowerment, freedom, civil rights, integrity and health, abuse, property rights, legal issues, social rights and security and access to justice. In October this year the All Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People in the UK launched a major new inquiry into human rights of older people. This aims to improve the protection of rights of older people with an international legally binding agreement addressing the issues raised above. These changes have already been achieved for people with disabilities through the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and for children with a further Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is now timely for there to be an additional one for older people.

Although there has been some headway in improving the employment and service provision for older people through the Equality Act in 2010 age discrimination and ageism is still seen within many areas of society as noted above.

Age UK are working closely with the All Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People and a summary of their intended meetings, discussion topics and reports can be found on their the web page with this link On the web page they have also provided a link for people to get involved and send comments and questions as individuals and organisations directly to them.

Their scheduled meetings for 2018 include in January 2018 - highlighting good practice, March 2018 - autonomy and independence and May 2018 - the right to long term and palliative care.

This is our chance to help format the discussions and potential outcomes of any reports that affect us working with and for older people, as well as those who currently see themselves within that category. It is a report that will affect all of us in some way either now or in the future so we must not miss this opportunity to have our say and be involved if we want to see changes both here in the UK and internationally.


Dabove MI (2013) Elder law: a need that emerges on the course of life. Ageing  International 40: 138-148

Duffy, J Basu S, Pearson KC (2012) Older people and legal advice the need for a joined up and creative approach. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 34(1) 31-47 

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