The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, pays tribute to all those human rights advocates and heroes of everyday life for their passionate struggle to bring about change in the lives of older people. To mark the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, she issues the following statement:
“In the midst of a demographic revolution, the work of older human rights champions is more important than ever.
We all are duty bound to ensure that future generations – our children and grandchildren – as they grow older, are seen as valuable contributors to society. Young people, those in positions of power today, need to realise that they too will age. It is for them to shape older people’s reality and the future they want. They need to champion this change if they want to escape ageism, discrimination and the denial of human rights in older age.
I pay tribute to all human rights champions, old and young, who tirelessly and passionately stand up for human rights. They insist that untenable conditions be addressed with the proper mix of measures and interventions, in law and in practice, to empower older persons and spur their participation. This is evidence for hope. We need to continue and redouble these efforts.
The future I want includes older people as integral parts of society; older persons actively participating in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being; sharing their knowledge and skills with younger generations; older persons enjoying all their human rights.
To make this a reality, I call on States to step up their efforts to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older people. While it is for them to determine the best way in doing so, I call on them to consider the various proposals that have been made, including the elaboration of a dedicated instrument on the rights of older persons.”
Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. As a mandate holder, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte is independent from any government or organisation, and serves in her individual capacity.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.