International & National Principles, Rights and Responsibilities
of Older Persons
The Rights of Older Persons in Relation to the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Together, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights constitute the International
Bill of Human Rights. However, because the human rights of older
persons are not specifically mentioned in any of these instruments,
the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, which monitors their implementation, adopted the following
General Comment #6 - The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
of Older Persons in November 1995. This marks the first time,
within the overall framework of human rights, that the economic,
social and cultural rights of older persons are explicitly recognized.
EXTRACTS FROM THE RIGHTS OF OLDER PERSONS IN RELATION TO THE INTERNATIONAL
COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
(adopted November 1995 - Doc.E/C 12/1995/16)
The Committee notes that while it may not yet be possible to conclude
that discrimination on the grounds of age is comprehensively prohibited
by the Covenant, the range of matters in relation to which such
discrimination can be accepted is very limited. ..In the few areas
in which discrimination continues to be tolerated, such as in
the relation to mandatory retirement ages or access to tertiary
education, there is a clear trend towards the elimination of such
barriers. The Committee is of the view that States parties should
seek to expedite this trend to the greatest extent possible.
Accordingly, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
is of the view that States parties to the Covenant are obligated
to pay particular attention to promoting and protecting the economic,
social and cultural rights of older persons...
Article 6 of the Covenant requires States parties to take appropriate
steps to safeguard the right of everyone to the opportunity to
gain a living by work which is freely chosen or accepted. In this
regard, the Committee, bearing in mind that older workers who
have not reached retirement age often encounter problems in finding
and keeping jobs, stresses the need for measures to prevent discrimination
on grounds of age in employment and occupation.
The right "to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions
work" (Covenant, art. 7) is of special importance for ensuring
that older workers enjoy safe working conditions until their retirement.
In particular, it is desirable, to employ older workers in circumstances
in which the best use can be made of their experience and know-how.
In the years preceding retirement, retirement preparation programmes
should be implemented, with the participation of representative
organizations of employers and workers and other bodies concerned,
to prepare older workers to cope with their new situation. Such
programmes should, in particular, provide older workers with information
about: their rights and obligations as pensioners; the opportunities
and conditions for continuing an occupational activity or undertaking
voluntary work; means of combating detrimental effects of ageing;
facilities for adult education and cultural activities, and the
use of leisure time.
The rights protected by article 8 of the Covenant, namely, trade
union rights, including after retirement age, must be applied
to older workers...
In accordance with article 9 of the Covenant and the provisions
concerning implementation of the ILO social security conventions...States
parties must take appropriate measurers to establish general regimes
of compulsory old-age insurance, starting at a particular age,
to be prescribed by national law.
In keeping with the recommendations contained in the two ILO
Conventions mentioned above and Recommendation No. 162, the Committee
invites States parties to establish retirement age so that it
is flexible, depending on the occupations performed and the working
ability of elderly persons, with due regard to demographic, economic
and social factors.