This past Monday, July 25, 2011, IAHSA joined the International Federation on Ageing and other non-governmental organizations in the ageing field to brief the U.S. Congress.  The briefing aimed to inform, stimulate interest and provide a mechanism through which further dialogue could occur to strengthen the rights of older people.  During our time before Congress, internationally respected academics, advocates, practitioners and human rights lawyers called for the full recognition of the rights of older people through the use of existing national legislation and encouraged the U.S. to actively participate in discussions about the need for a new international human rights instrument for older adults.

Speaking on behalf of IAHSA, Dr. William T. Smith said that while older persons are identified as being the foundation of our societies, they are frequently overlooked in the twilight of their years due to the many competing demands that governments must address.  There are many in our country, he said, that would say that older persons have “paid their dues” and are “entitled” to the services afforded by various programs.  Unfortunately “entitlement” has become a word with many negative connotations in the United States, he concluded.

Mr. Edward Ryan, speaking for AARP, stated that people everywhere have the right to secure living conditions that enable each one to age with fair recognition, respect, dignity and purpose.  He further asserted that “we cannot ignore the injustice of discrimination against people after they reach a particular stage of life or cross an imaginary line defining a person as old, then look at her or him as being different from what they were and create a basis to dismiss from employment or deny adequate insurance or quality health care.” Mr Ryan concluded by stating that  “AARP requests American leadership support for an international and universal human rights instrument that would help to obligate governments to provide, protect and help older persons to surmount their challenges to a quality of life with economic security, good health, social inclusion, family cohesion and safety that all human beings should have as a right.”

Ms Irene Hoskins, President of the International Federation on Ageing explained that “while the rights of older people are embedded in international human rights conventions reaffirming economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, these international instruments are are not specific to older people.”

Take a few minutes to see slideshow below, which includes the pictures of our briefing this past Monday and share your thoughts with IAHSA.

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