New Recommendation on the Rights of Older People Provides Important Guidance to Council of Europe Member States

London, 6 March 2014

On 19 February 2014 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation Cm/Rec(2014)2 with the purpose to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons without any discrimination.

The Recommendation, which has been widely welcomed by those campaigning for the rights of older persons, requires member states to promote respect for older persons’ inherent dignity (paragraph 1), to guarantee their access to sufficient information about their rights (paragraph 4) and to ensure they are appropriately consulted prior to the adoption of measures having an impact on the enjoyment of their rights (paragraph 5).

The Recommendation was adopted by the Council of Ministers following an inclusive drafting process that ensured the participation of a range of key stakeholders, including civil society.

Of particular note, the Recommendation:

  • Stresses the need for full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons without discrimination on any grounds, including age (paragraph 6). In this regard, it is recommended that member states consider making explicit reference to “age” in their national anti-discrimination legislation (paragraph 7) and take effective measures to prevent multiple discrimination of older persons (paragraph 8).
  • Reaffirms the inherent dignity of older persons, placing a strong emphasis on independent living: older persons have a right to “lead their lives independently, in a self-determined and autonomous manner” and to take independent decisions. Any limitations on this right must be proportionate to the specific situation (paragraph 9). Furthermore, older persons’ participation in public life should be guaranteed (paragraph 10).
  • Sets out detailed guidance in relation to the implementation of measures aimed at protecting older persons from violence and abuse (paragraph 18).
  • Formulates requirements to uphold the socio-economic rights of older persons. In particular, older persons should receive appropriate resources to enable them to have an adequate standard of living and participate in public, economic, social and cultural life (paragraph 21). Member states must ensure that older persons do not face discrimination in employment, including on grounds of age (paragraph 26). Further, states must ensure available and accessible appropriate health care and long-term care (paragraph 29).
  • Highlights the importance of residential services, which should be sufficiently and adequately provided by member states for those older persons who are no longer able or do not wish to reside in their own homes (paragraph 40). With the stated purpose of guaranteeing the respect of their right to freedom of movement, the Recommendation also sets out detailed guidance in relation to persons who have been placed in institutional care (paragraph 41). Crucially, the Recommendation states that persons should, in principle, only be placed in such care with their free and informed consent (paragraph 43).

ERT welcomes this important Recommendation. In particular, ERT considers that the involvement of key stakeholders in the drafting process and the extent of the considered recommendations that have resulted are to be applauded.

Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Trust, said:

“The Committee of Ministers, in adopting this Recommendation, has sent an important message that age discrimination must not be tolerated and that member states must do more to prevent it. The Committee has also provided important guidance and good practice which, we hope, will help member states to ensure that they are upholding the equal rights of older persons. ERT has been working for some time on ensuring the right to non-discrimination on grounds of age and the latest edition of our journal, The Equal Rights Review, had a special focus on age discrimination. Amongst other aspects of age equality, we are particularly passionate about the importance of the right of older persons to live independently. We are, therefore, pleased that this right is included in the Recommendation.”

To read the Recommendation click here

To read Volume 11 of The Equal Rights Review click here