Magazine article UN Chronicle

Life Expectations

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Life Expectations

Article excerpt

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25

The question of ageing was first debated at the United Nations at the initiative of Argentina in 1948. The issue was again raised by Malta in 1969. In recognizing that longevity was becoming one of the major challenges of the twentieth century, the United Nations convened the World Assembly on Ageing in Vienna, Austria, in 1982. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the International Plan of Action on Ageing, which discusses the broad implications of ageing for individual life and for societies. It sets forth 62 recommendations for action dealing with the situation of older persons.

In 1990, the General Assembly designated 1 October as the International Day for the Elderly, later renamed the International Day of Older Persons, which was celebrated for the first time the following year. The Day has become an annual event in most countries, with varied activities organized in conjunction with the official commemoration.

The General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons in 1991. The 18 Principles provide a broad framework for action on ageing. They are organized into five clusters: independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older persons. (Please see following article.)

In 1992, the General Assembly adopted the Proclamation on Ageing, an outline for practical action to be taken at the global level in support of regional, national and local activities. The Proclamation urges partnerships among the many concerned actors in society, including Governments, non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector, to ensure that the needs of ageing populations are adequately addressed. The Proclamation also caged for the observance of the year 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons.

Activities to mark the Year will be guided by the United Nations operational framework, which is designed to facilitate mainstreaming older persons' concerns and encourage activities within a long-term perspective. It calls for raising awareness, focusing on all ages, in order to promote active ageing. develop appropriate care-giving strategies, address the situation of older women, prepare youth for the future and promote good early childhood development. It encourages looking ahead, beyond 1999, and identifying long-term priorities in view of projections indicating that in the year 2150 every third person will be over 60. It also reaches out to nontraditional actors, such as the development community, the media, the private sector and youth, and calls for networking in research and information exchange.

The development community, through aid donors and recipient countries, is urged to include older persons in their programmes. …

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