(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: (Bifocal, Vol. 36, Issue 5).)
On June 15, 2015, the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons during the General Assembly of the institution, which was immediately signed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC.
The purpose of the Convention—the first regional instrument of its kind in the world—is to promote, protect and ensure the recognition and the full enjoyment and exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons, in order to contribute to their full inclusion, integration and participation in society. The starting point of the Convention is the recognition that all existing human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to older people, and that they should fully enjoy them on an equal basis with other segments of the population.
"This is a very important step for everyone. Our slogan of 'More rights for more people' is fully in the logic of the Convention, which reaffirms the hemispheric dimension of our work, in this case the commitment to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights of older people, taking into account their needs and specific requirements," said Secretary General Luis Almagro during the signing of the document, which urges States to adopt "legislative or other measures" that are necessary to give effect to the rights and freedoms of older adults, including awareness campaigns.
At present, people aged 60 or older in the Americas represent 14% of the hemisphere's population (over 135 million). By 2030, nearly two in five people will be 60 or older, and in total there will be more than 215 million older people in the Americas. The Convention will strengthen the legal obligations to respect, promote and ensure the human rights of older persons. Its ratification will carry the obligation of States parties to adopt measures to guarantee a differentiated and preferential treatment to older persons in all spheres.
For the Convention to enter into force it is necessary that at least two signatory countries have ratified it. ■