The contributions of older people to society are often devalued and old age is considered by many persons as synonymous with decline, burden and uselessness. An authentic human rights approach is needed to enable older people to be full actors in society and to offer their knowledge, skills and experience through civic participation and public engagement to help shape a better world for all.
The lifetime knowledge of senior citizens, their talents and competence are an added value for society and should be seriously taken into account.
That purpose could be achieved through a UN universal convention which could help older people contribute, prosper and equally enjoy their rights. Such a legal instrument would represent an important acknowledgement that older citizens are of equal value to society. At the same time, it could contribute to improving older persons' awareness of their specific rights, empower them as rights holders, and help fight ageist stereotypes.
There is no doubt that in order to be really effective the future legal instrument/convention should contain clear provisions for a stronger monitoring process with regard to the human rights situation of older people world-wide, in order to put an end to the destructive practice of ageism.
In conclusion, some hope can be expressed that in 2017 the traditional UN message on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, celebrated on October 1st, will not be, as in the past, a collection of platitudes, but will be a vibrant and robust appeal for universal recognition that as human beings age, they must continue to enjoy a full, independent, and autonomous life, health, safety, integration, and active participation in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres of their national societies, in conformity with the value of solidarity and complementarity in global and regional cooperation.
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