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NHRIs to be formally included in work of UN panel on ageing

Graphic: Two women smiling at camera, India

The valuable expertise that NHRIs can contribute to global discussions of human rights has been recognised in a landmark decision.


The valuable expertise that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) can contribute has been recognised by a landmark decision to include them as independent participants in the work of the UN's Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG).

Starting with its next session in July 2017, "A status" NHRIs will be invited to participate in the work of the OEWG as it deliberates on a possible convention on the rights of older persons.

The OEWG is the first General Assembly subsidiary body to formalise the independent participation of NHRIs in its work, following the adoption of a landmark General Assembly resolution in 2015.

Member States adopted the decision by consensus during the 7th session of the OEWG, held from 12-15 December 2016 in New York.


Graphic: Older people play a game of mahjong, China


Kieren Fitzpatrick, Director of the APF secretariat, attended the session as part of an ongoing advocacy campaign for the independent participation of NHRIs in all General Assembly bodies, equivalent to their participation rights at the UN Human Rights Council.

"This is a very welcome development and a clear recognition of the unique insights that NHRIs can bring to global discussions of human rights," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

"We are particularly grateful for the leadership of the OEWG Chair, Minister Matteo Estrémé of Argentina, in support of this landmark initiative."

Mr Fitzpatrick noted that other General Assembly bodies, including the Commission on the Status of Women and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, have also expressed their intention to look at ways to formally include NHRIs in their ongoing work.

As part of the OEWG session, the APF and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), held a side event on 12 December to discuss the role of NHRIs and their work to promote and protect the rights of older persons.

GANHRI was represented at the 7th session of the OEWG by Soung-ho Lee, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and Chairperson of GANHRI's Working Group on Older Persons.

Date: 5 January 2017


Image credits

  1. Two women smiling at camera, India - sandeepachetan.com, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2kfKr9U
  2. Older people play a game of mahjong, China - lain, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2iZWK54