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December 01, 2014

2014 Review: International Human Rights & Older Persons

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 36, Issue 2.)


This year the Commission continued to participate in what has become an annual meeting of the U.N. Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing through our liaison Bill Pope. The meeting took place July 30 to August 1. The Working Group has continued to engage in extensive inquiry and debate about whether the U.N. should pursue a separate convention on the rights of older persons; or instead, seek to strengthen the enforcement of existing international normative standards as they may apply to older persons. That question remains a threshold sticking point to consensus.

The Commission cosponsored an important side event at the Working Group’s meeting this year. The event presented the work of John Marshall Law School and Roosevelt University in the drafting of a model international convention, referred to as the Chicago Declaration. The authors see this draft as an evolving work, based on continuing input from experts and stakeholders internationally, including the ABA Commission. The hope is that this declaration will stimulate concrete thinking about what the terms of an actual convention might look like.

After the summer meeting, Bill Pope finished his successful tenure as liaison and Commission member and welcomed a new liaison to the U.N. Working Group, Professor William Mock of John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Bill Mock and his colleagues have been the driving force behind the Chicago Declaration. At John Marshall, Bill founded the Center for International & Comparative Studies and the school’s LL.M. programs in Comparative Legal Studies and International Business & Trade Law. Bill also serves in a leadership position in the Section on International Law. In looking ahead at prospects for action by the U.N. on aging issues, Bill is optimistic that the U.N. will eventually accept the need for an international convention on the rights of older persons and proceed with a convention process.

The Commission also continued to monitor the efforts of the Organization of American States (OAS), which has been moving ahead with stops and starts to draft a free-standing OAS convention on the rights of older persons. The convention drafting process has been extended into 2015. ■