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Ageing - Countdown to 2002: No. 4, January 2001

Newsletter of the United Nations programme on ageing: UN Secretariat for the World Assembly on Ageing.

The Preparatory Committee for the Second World Assembly on Ageing meets and adopts major decisions on procedural matters, including the accreditation and participation of NGOs.

Preparatory Committee for the Second World Assembly on Ageing

The Second World Assembly on Ageing is less than a year away. The revision of the International Plan of Action continues to advance the preparatory process and guide the discussions at all levels.

In February 2001, the Commission for Social Development acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Second World Assembly on Ageing convened its first session to discuss substantive and procedural matters regarding the World Assembly. The Committee decided on a resolution to request the Secretary-General to submit a report on elder abuse at its second session in 2002. The Committee met again in a resumed session on 30 April - 1 May and adopted a decision on accreditation of NGOs. Draft decisions on the participation of NGOs and the UN Trust Fund for Ageing were also adopted and will go to the General Assembly for final adoption. The Preparatory Committee came to an agreement on the provisional rules of procedure for final adoption by the World Assembly in Madrid.

Readers are encouraged to visit the web site of the UN programme on ageing where the decisions are posted: www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing. Regarding the participation of NGOs at the Assembly, representatives accredited to the Assembly would be permitted to address the Main Committee of the Whole, and time allowing, the Plenary. Regarding accreditation, NGOs that fit the following descriptions do not need to apply for accreditation to attend the Assembly: those that are in consultative status with ECOSOC; those that were accredited to previous major UN conferences and to their follow-up conferences; and those that attended the First World Assembly on Ageing in Vienna. The only requirement for these NGOs is a letter of intent to the Secretariat. All other NGOs must go through a formal process of accreditation as described in the above-mentioned decisions. It is recommended that applications be submitted by 31 December 2001 to avoid last-minute congestion of applications (end of new draffting). Please contact Mr. Yao N'Goran, NGO Focal Point of the Division for Social Policy and Development, ngoran@un.org.

The next resumed session of the Preparatory Committee will be held in either late November or early December, and will take up negotiations on the revised International Plan of Action on Ageing.

NGO Forum

A separate NGO Forum will also take place in Madrid from 4 - 9 April 2002, which follows its own procedures for registration. NGOs wishing to attend the Forum are encouraged to contact the International Executive Committee for the NGO Forum in Madrid, at information@agequakeforum.org, or visit their website at www.agequakeforum.org.

InterAgency Meeting

UN system organizations met on 6 - 7 March 2001 to discuss preparations for the Assembly and opportunities for future collaborations. The meeting was organized and chaired by the UN Secretariat for the Second World Assembly. The following items were discussed: measures to mainstream ageing into international development agendas; ways to upgrade institutional arrangements in addressing issues on ageing within the UN system; the contribution of the UN system organizations to the process of revision of the International Plan of Action on Ageing; and the participation of UN organizations in the World Assembly in Madrid.

While there is increasing recognition of the challenges of global demographic ageing, it was acknowledged that response to the policy implications has been slow. Participants noted that in order to advance action on ageing, particularly in developing countries, it is important to understand that such action should address the expectations of populations which extend far beyond the current 10 per cent of the 60+ age groups. It is therefore important to bring to the attention of policymakers the heterogeneity of the ageing process and its life-long and society-wide nature. Participants also noted that strengthening of a central co-ordinating entity on ageing could enable the United Nations to effectively address the new challenges of an ageing global community. Tapping on the comparative advantage and expertise of each UN agency would increase the capacity of the UN to undertake the tasks ahead.

Technical Committee for the Second World Assembly on Ageing

The third meeting of the Technical Committee took place in Vienna on 23 - 26 April, hosted by the Government of Austria. The Technical Committee was established by the Secretary-General and is composed of experts from a cross-section of areas in the field of ageing, taking into account geographic balance. During the 4-day meeting, experts discussed a wide range of issues for consideration for inclusion in the revised International Plan of Action on Ageing, which will be adopted at the Second World Assembly in Madrid next year. Experts reviewed priority issues under the three Priority Directions drafted by the Secretariat: development in an ageing world, advancing health and wellbeing into old age, and ensuring enabling and supportive environments. Experts then proposed objectives and recommendations under each priority issue for possible inclusion into the revised Plan of Action.

The UN Secretariat will meet a deadline of end August 2001, established by the Preparatory Committee, to complete the draft of the revised International Plan of Action on Ageing. This will allow time for Member States and the international community to review the draft in preparation for the next resumed session of the Preparatory Committee, when the Committee will begin negotiations of the draft Plan.

Marcel Marceau: Goodwill Ambassador

Mr. Marcel Marceau, legendary artist often referred to as the world's greatest mime, has been designated Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing. At a press conference in April to announce his appointment, Mr. Marceau told correspondents that he would use his art form to promote awareness of the Assembly. "Ageing should not be seen merely as time or numbers" Mr. Marceau said, "rather it should be considered a process of learning, through which the contributions of the young, as well as older persons, could enrich the world". The itinerary of Mr. Marceau's performances can be found on his webpage at: www.marceau.org.

Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Social Policy and Development
UN Programme on Ageing - The United Nations Secretariat
For the World Assembly on Ageing
Room DC2-1358, 2 UN Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10017
Website: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing

Copyright United Nations
Division for Social Policy and Development
Last Updated: 28 December 2000.   Comments and suggestions: sidorenko@un.org