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Ageing - Countdown to 2002: No. 6, January 2002
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 prepares to meet for the second and final session
Negotiations on the Outcome Document
The Preparatory Committee for the Second World Assembly on Ageing will meet for a second, and final, session on 25 February to 1 March 2002 before heading for Madrid for the World Assembly, on 8 to 12 April 2002. During the course of the second session, pre-conference consultations for the Second World Assembly on Ageing will take place to reach agreement on procedural and organizational matters, including, inter alia, the composition of the Bureau for the World Assembly, the draft provisional agenda and the organization of work.
The Preparatory Committee will then resume its debate on the outcome document for the Second World Assembly: the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002. At its resumed first session on 10 to 14 December 2001, preceded by a week of informal consultations, members of the Preparatory Committee reached agreement on about a third on the wording of the outcome document. Informal consultations were held again on 10 to 16 January 2002, with additional informals scheduled for February and March. As of 16 January, agreement on the textual content stands at half-way.
The draft of the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 can be viewed on the webpage of the United Nations Programme on Ageing, at www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing. The Committee has one more session and possibly another intersessional to negotiate the final document that calls for:
- Achievement of secure ageing, which involves reaffirming the goal of eradicating poverty in old age and building on the UN Principles for Older Persons;
- Empowerment of older persons to fully and effectively participate in the economic, political and social lives of their societies;
- Provision of opportunities for individual development, self-fulfillment and well-being throughout life as well as in late life.
- Guaranteeing the economic, social and cultural rights of older persons as well as their civil and political rights.
- Commitment to gender equality in older persons through elimination of gender-based discrimination.
- Recognition of the crucial importance of intergenerational interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development.
- Provision of health care and support for older people, as they are needed.
- Facilitating partnership between all levels of government, civil society, the private sector and older persons themselves in translating the Strategy into practical
- Harnessing of scientific research and expertise to focus on the individual, social and health implications of ageing, particularly within developing countries.
The 1982 First World Assembly on Ageing in Vienna produced an International Plan of Action that called for a humanitarian and developmental approach to ageing. The current United Nations review is assessing progress made by Member States during the past twenty years toward implementing the Vienna Plan, and to identify new challenges and barriers to progress.
The mandate of the Preparatory Committee is to provide an outcome document for the Second World Assembly in Madrid. Part of the reason that consensus has been reached on half the text to date is due to the simple reality of time constraints. Many of the paragraphs left pending after the first analysis have not been revisited and are not likely to be addressed until Madrid, for lack of time.
The remaining half of the text that still needs agreement is likely to raise some lively debate on the following issues:
- Debt relief as a prerequisite for developing countries to address the issues and impact of population ageing;
- A human rights based approach to ageing and development;
- Migration flows and the social and economic needs of ageing migrants;
- Work and the needs and rights of the ageing labour force;
- End of life issues: ‘to die with dignity’;
- Monitoring, promotion and implementation of the outcome document, including resource allocation and international cooperation;
In addition to the 117 paragraphs that comprise the current draft Plan, a political declaration and a proposal from the Group of 77 and China to restructure the document, create separate sections for objectives, assessment, actions and initiatives, and new challenges referring to the situation of developing countries, have yet to be considered. The Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Ambassador Felipe Paolillo, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations, decided that negotiations on both the structure of the document and the political declaration would be undertaken after negotiations are completed on the textual wording of the Plan.
As in all UN processes that involve negotiation and agreement of language, the final adoption in Madrid of the Plan of Action will have been achieved through a thorough and demanding process of examination, deliberation and compromise.
The Valencia Forum will immediately precede the Assembly on 1 to 4 April. This global scientific conference will bring together researchers, educators and service
providers to contribute to the World Assembly in Madrid. For more information, visit the web site of the Valencia Forum, at www.valenciaforum.com.
The NGO Forum will begin before and overlap with the Assembly in Madrid, on 5 to 9 April. NGOs from all over the world are expected to attend the Forum, which will offer a platform for NGOs to exchange their experiences and work on issues concerning older persons. For more information, visit the web site of the NGO
Forum, at www.forumageing.org.
At the Assembly on 8 to 12 April, a parallel side events programme that will encompass high level roundtables, panels, workshops, meetings and cultural
exhibitions is being organized by the host Government of Spain and will involve UN system agencies, international non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental bodies and Member States. Among these, Dialogues 2020: the Future of Ageing will encompass high level roundtable discussions on, inter alia, issues related to development, active ageing, social protection and sustainability, participation and rights, and intergenerational networks. For further information, visit the web site of the Spanish Organizing Committee: www.madrid2002-envejecimiento.org.
Follow-up to the Assembly in Madrid is expected to be far-reaching and multifaceted. It is hoped that adoption of the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 will bolster intergovernmental mandates and the political will of governments to take a crucial step towards implementation. In this regard, the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) will be staging a Ministerial Conference on Ageing in Berlin, on 11 to 13 September 2002. Ministers from ECE Member States and international NGOs will take part in the dialogue aimed at developing and implementing regional policy guidelines for older persons. Details on this regional conference can be found by visiting: www.mica2002.de.
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