The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The major United Nations conferences and summits and special sessions of the general assembly and review follow-up processes have set goals, objectives and commitments at all levels intended to improve the economic and social conditions of everyone. These provide the context in which the specific contributions and concerns of older persons must be placed. Implementing their provisions would enable older persons to contribute fully and benefit equally from development.

There are a number of central themes running through the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002 linked to these goals, objectives and commitments, which include: (a) The full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all older persons; (b) The achievement of secure ageing, which involves reaffirming the goal of eradicating poverty in old age and building on the United Nations principles for older persons;

(c) Empowerment of older persons to fully and effectively participate in the economic, political and social lives of their societies, including through income-generating and voluntary work; (d) Provision of opportunities for individual development, self-fulfilment and well-being throughout life as well as in late life, through, for example, access to lifelong learning and participation in the community while recognizing that older persons are not one homogeneous group;

(e) Ensuring the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and civil and political rights of persons and the elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination against older persons; (f) Commitment to gender equality among older persons through, inter alia, elimination of gender-based discrimination; (g) Recognition of the crucial importance of families, intergenerational interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development; (h) Provision of healthcare, support and social protection for older persons, including preventive and rehabilitative healthcare;

(i) Facilitating partnership between all levels of government, civil society, the private sector and older persons themselves in translating the International Plan of Action into practical action; (j) Harnessing of scientific research and expertise and realizing the potential of technology to focus on, inter alia, the individual, social and health implications of ageing, in particular in developing countries; (k) Recognition of the situation of ageing indigenous persons, their unique circumstances and the need to seek means to give them an effective voice in decisions directly affecting them.

The promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, is essential for the creation of an inclusive society for all ages in which older persons participate fully and without discrimination and on the basis of equality. Combating discrimination based on age and promoting the dignity of older persons are fundamental to ensuring the respect that older persons deserve...

The recommendations for action are organized according to three priority directions: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments. The extent to which the lives of older persons are secure is strongly influenced by progress in these three directions. The priority directions are designed to guide policy formulation and implementation towards the specific goal of successful adjustment to an ageing world, in which success is measured in terms of social development, the improvement for older persons in quality of life and in the sustainability of the various systems, formal and informal, that underpin the quality of well-being throughout the life course.

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