Given the rapidly ageing population across Europe, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the region are increasingly working on the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons. However, their rights are often inadequately protected and are scattered across different legal instruments. This risks that older persons could be neglected in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of human rights. 

At the national level, NHRIs monitor, report on and advise governments on legislation, policies and practices impacting the human rights of older persons. Furthermore, they combat discrimination on the grounds of age. Some also conduct monitoring visits to residential care facilities for older persons. 

We support European NHRIs working in this area in various ways. This includes exchanging good practices; informing NHRIs of relevant European and global legislative and policy developments; facilitating European NHRIs’ participation in these for a; and engaging with civil society organisations working on the rights of older persons. 

LONG-TERM CARE IN EUROPE

A major ENNHRI project focused on the human rights protection of older persons in long-term care, with a focus on residential care. Running from 2015 to 2017, this was funded by the European Commission. 

We conducted desk-based research on the human rights standards relevant to older persons in long-term care and developed a toolkit for a human-rights approach to care. We also brought European NHRIs together to address the life experiences of older persons in long-term care. Our members in Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Romania conducted monitoring of residential long-term care, reported on their findings and provided recommendations to national authorities. 

Numerous organisations were involved in the project, including AGE Platform Europe, OHCHR, Council of Europe, European Commission and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. 

The result of these activities were captured in a report titled ‘We have the same rights: the Human Rights of Older Persons in Long-term Care in Europe’. 

Download: We have the same rights: the Human Rights of Older Persons in Long-term Care in Europe

ADVOCACY AT THE REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

We facilitate European NHRIs’ participation in the Working Group on Ageing of the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI). Furthermore, we cooperate with GANHRI on all UN engagement concerning the rights of older persons.  

In December 2022, we launched a guidance paper on how European NHRIs can advocate for a new UN Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons. Watch the guidance paper launch event. 

Collectively and individually, NHRIs will continue pushing for the binding instrument needed in this area. 

We also encourage European NHRI input to the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing. These inputs and other advocacy work are coordinated by ENNHRI’s Working Group on Human Rights of Older Persons.  

We have also advocated for the Council of Europe to issue recommendations calling on states to realise the rights of older persons. For example, we inputted to the Drafting Group on the Human Rights of Older Persons (CDDH-AGE). Its work concluded with the Committee of Ministers adopting a Recommendation on promoting human rights of older persons. 

WORKING GROUP ON THE RIGHTS OF OLDER PERSONS

Our Working Group on the rights of older persons gathers European NHRIs working on this topic. It serves as a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and challenges that NHRIs face in this area. The Group’s activities also feed into GANHRI’s Working Group on Ageing.  

Co-Chairs: Anna Chabiera, Polish NHRI; Nino Shalamberidze – Georgian NHRI