What can ASEM Member States do to ensure that everyone is entitled to the full enjoyment of their human rights without discrimination on the basis of older age? Read the Key Recommendations here.
“Older persons, like other persons, enjoy the rights guaranteed under international and regional human rights treaties. However, the absence of explicit recognition of ageism and age discrimination and of rights based on an understanding of the nature and significance of the ageing process has meant that in practice the types of violations suffered by older persons are not particularly visible in the international human rights system.”
This was one of the key messages of the 20th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights (ASEMHRS20) held under the topic of “Human Rights of Older Persons” which aimed to jointly seek and devise measures to improve the enjoyment by all older persons of their human rights without discrimination on the basis of older age and to make recommendations about possible actions at international, regional and national levels.
The Seminar, which was held as a hybrid event on 22-24 February 2021 and co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea, the ASEM Global Ageing Center, and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, brought together over 130 experts, academics, and government representatives from 44 ASEM Partner countries.
The Seminar was addressed by a number of speakers who reflected on the importance of human rights of older persons, non-discrimination, as well as on challenges and opportunities of population ageing. The event was privileged to have Dr Claudia MAHLER the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, deliver the keynote address; with closing reflections from Ms Amal ABOU RAFEH, Chief of the Programme on Ageing Unit at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).
The Seminar included a hybrid panel discussion on the theme “the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights of Older Persons in the Post COVD-19 Era” with participants drawn from academia, ASEM Partner governments, civil society organisations and national human rights institutions. On the second day, four working groups were convened to discuss the following thematic areas: Autonomy and Independence; Social Protection and Human Rights of Older Persons; Age Discrimination against Older Persons focusing on Labour Markets; and Empowerment of Older Persons through Education and Training.
The Working Group on Autonomy and Independence of Older Persons was led by Professor Titti MATTSSON from Lund University and moderator Rio HADA from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Working Group on Social Protection and Human Rights of Older Persons was headed by Emeritus Professor Andrew BYRNES of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and moderated by Dr Srinivas TATA of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The findings of the Working Group on Age Discrimination against Older Persons focusing on Labour Markets Human Rights were summarised by Professor Jolanta PEREK-BIALAS of the Jagiellonian University of Poland with discussions moderated by Dr Wenjuan ZHANG from the Renmin University of China. The fourth working group, which focused on Empowerment of Older Persons through Education and Training, was headed by Professor Yeong-Ran PARK from Kangnam University, Republic of Korea and moderated by Bridget SLEAP of HelpAge International.
The thematic areas were laid out in the Seminar’s Background paper, which was jointly written by rapporteurs Titti Mattsson and Andrew Byrnes.
The main outcomes of the discussions are gathered in Key Messages which was shared with all 53 ASEM Partners after the Seminar.
As a follow-up to the Seminar, the series delivered a capacity-building training component on the theme “Human Rights of Older Persons in the Era of Digital Transformation” in October-November 2021.
The Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights series was launched in 1997 to deepen relations between civil society actors and governments in Asia and Europe on major human rights issues.
This Seminar series is co-organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (nominated by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
ASEF’s contribution is with the support of the European Union.
For information on the past Seminars, please follow this link.