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Joint letter to the UN Secretary-General from civil society organisations welcoming the Secretary General’s brief on older persons and COVID-19 and requesting a plan of action

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Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We are writing as 103 civil society organisations from around the world to congratulate you for the UN Policy Brief on ‘The impact of COVID-19 on older persons’. This is an important and welcome intervention from the highest level of the UN at a time when the lives of older persons are at risk and their human rights are under attack. We welcome recognition of the multiple and significant risks older persons are facing at this time and the pandemic’s amplifying effects on pre-existing inequalities, ageism and discrimination, and challenges accessing health and social care and humanitarian assistance.

We are now requesting your support to ensure the action of the UN system to secure the way forward you identified in your brief. These actions recognise that older persons have long been subject to inadequate protection of their human rights and overlooked in global development and humanitarian efforts as well as in national policies and programmes. We believe there are opportunities in the recovery from this disaster to build back better and set the stage for a more inclusive and equitable society. We must all be concerned that the pandemic has exposed significant gaps in the UN system and also across sectors and disciplines, at a time when solidarity across countries and generations is needed the most. Only urgent action can fulfil the UN’s mission to leave no one behind.

As you will be aware, the UN has no system-wide policy or strategy on ageing and older persons, no lead UN agency and no formal mechanism for collaboration between UN bodies. In the COVID-19 reality, the gaps in coordination and leadership have led to disparities between the objective risks and needs of older persons, their visibility within agency response plans and their prioritisation within the overall response.

The UN has a clear mandate from member states to enhance leadership and coordination. Over the past two weeks, 146 member states have signed on to a statement in support of your policy brief and recognition of the imperative to act in solidarity and to strengthen global and national responses to address the rights of older persons. GA resolution 74/125 requests the UN to enhance collaboration with regional commissions, funds and programmes on ageing issues, to increase technical cooperation efforts, expand the role of the regional commissions on ageing issues, facilitate the coordination of national and international non-governmental organisations on ageing and enhance cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.

In light of this, we are inviting and encouraging you to share the plan to address the inclusion of older persons with actions to uphold their rights across the UN system. We hope these will include, but not be limited to, the following:

Immediate steps to mainstream older persons into COVID-19 responses Measures to strengthen UN-wide policy and coordination at all levels, including through the adoption of a system-wide strategy on older persons and ageing Commitment by the executive heads of the organisations of the UN system to analyse the gaps in the strategies and programmes of UN agencies, funds and programmes and present these at the earliest possible Chief Executive Board meeting to plan corrective action Acceleration of efforts by the General Assembly’s working group to develop proposals for an international legal instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of older persons Enhanced capacity to provide technical support to governments to strengthen older persons’ rights Strengthened and support the participation of older persons in UN-led intergovernmental fora As civil society organisations, we stand alongside you and are ready to play our part through constructive dialogue on the solutions available, and by supporting strengthened participation of older people directly in the work of the UN at all levels. We look forward to enhancing our partnerships with the UN to advance our common agenda to leave no one behind.

This letter is supported by: 1. Action for Basic Development Initiatives, Ethiopia 2. ACAMAGE, Cameroon 3. Action Solidaire International, Senegal 4. Active Ageing and Research Centre Bangladesh 5. Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN) 6. Age Action Ireland 7. Age International 8. AGE Platform Europe 9. AGECO, Costa Rica 10. Ageing Nepal 11. Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia 12. Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias in Zambia 13. Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation 14. Amis des Étrangers au Togo 15. Amnesty International 16. Anavie 17. Asociación Cultural Casa del Niño 18. BAGSO, Germany 19. Center for Studies on Aging, Lebanon 20. Centre for Ageing and Rural Development, Kenya 21. Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA) Nigeria 22. Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc. (COSE) 23. Confluence of Rights, Nigeria 24. Consejo Distrital de Sabios, Colombia 25. Dave Omokaro Foundation, Nigeria 26. DIS-MOI (Droits Humains Ocean Indien) 27. Dobroe Delo, Russia 28. Environmental Initiative for Sustainable Development Organization (EnvI), Sudan 29. Family Ark Mission, Nigeria 30. Focus of Disabled Persons Kasarani, Kenya 31. Forum des femmes pour la gouvernance des ressources naturelles en République Démocratique du Congo (FFGRN) 32. FUNDACIÓN SIDOM, Argentina 33. Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) 34. Global Ageing Network 35. Grandmothers Consortium, Uganda 36. Gravis, India 37. Gray Panthers 38. Health Nest Uganda 39. HelpAge Canada 40. HelpAge Deutschland 41. HelpAge International España 42. HelpAge International 43. HelpAge Korea 44. HelpAge RDC 45. HelpAge Sri Lanka 46. HelpAge USA 47. Human Life Development Initiative (HLDI) 48. Human Rights Watch 49. Humanitarian and Development Consortium (HDC) of South Sudan 50. Humanitarian Translation for Somalia (HTS) 51. IAGG 52. ILC Argentina 53. ILC Canada 54. Inclusion Africa 55. Initiative for Peace Communication Association South Sudan (IPCA) 56. INPEA 57. Instituto Qualivida, Brazil 58. International Federation on Ageing 59. Kasarani Brain Tank CBO
60. Lutheran World Federation 61. Magu Poverty Focus on Older People Rehabilitation Centre (MAPERECE) 62. Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights 63. Mauritius Family Planning Welfare Association 64. Nassa Brotherhood Programs, Tanzania 65. National Older Women's Network Australia 66. National Senior Citizen Federation (NASCIF) Nepal 67. National Senior Citizens Organization of Liberia (NASCOL) 68. NGO Committee Geneva 69. NGO Committee on Ageing New York 70. NSINDAGIZA, Rwanda 71. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative, Nigeria 72. Pajoma, Kenya 73. PCCDS, Palestine 74. Peace Empowerment Foundation (Nigeria) 75. Relief To Development Society (Redeso) Tanzania 76. Resource Integration Center (RIC) Bangladesh 77. Rift Valley Children & Women Development Organization (RCWDO) 78. Saidia Wazee Karagwe (SAWAKA), Tanzania 79. SGA Africa 80. Sisters of Charity Federation 81. Solidarité Echange Pour Le Developpement Integral, DRC 82. Somaliland Help Age Organisation 83. Soroptimist International 84. South Sudan Older People's Organization (SSOPO) 85. Sierra Leone Association for the Welfare of the Aged (SOWA) 86. Support for Women in Agriculture and Environment (SWAGEN) 87. SYEAC-SaveElders Tanzania 88. Tanzania Association of Women Leaders in Agriculture and Environment (TAWLAE) 89. Tearfund 90. The Good Samaritan Social Services Trust, Tanzania 91. The Rhizome Center for Migrants 92. Tinker Institute on International Law and Organizations 93. Triumph Uganda Mental health Support and Recovery Program 94. TSDA, Ethiopia 95. Turbota pro Litnih v Ukraini, Ukraine 96. Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA) 97. Unidad de Organizaciones Afrocaucanas 98. Univers de solidarité et de développement (UNI.SOL.D), Togo 99. Valli, Finland 100. Voie éclairée des enfants démunis (ONG VED), Togo 101. VSO International 102. Westaid, Wajir, Kenya 103. Word of Life International

Additional signatories: 104. HelpAge Cambodia

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