RightOn – Protecting the rights of older persons during the COVID19 pandemic
In partnership with the Permanent Missions of Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, UNFPA, the Geneva Academy, the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex, World Jewish Conference, the Geneva Rights Platform, and the Geneva Internet Platform, the URG has launched a new digital initiative to keep the conversation on key human rights issues going during these times of lockdowns and self-isolation.
The RightOn initiative provides a platform for debate and exchange of ideas on topical human rights issues through regular webinars, which takes place every Wednesday at 3 PM CEST. The eight of these Wednesday Web Chats took place on 27th May 2020 and focused on the issue of ‘Protecting the rights of older persons during the COVID19 pandemic’
Older persons rank amongst the most affected groups by COVID-19. They face a higher mortality risk, with those over 80 years old dying at five times the average rate. The spread of COVID-19 in care homes and institutions is particularly devastating on older people’s lives and rights, with distressing reports indicating instances of neglect or mistreatment.
Additionally, prevention and response-related measures can contribute to the deepening of their social isolation and their ability to exercise their autonomy and rights. Furthermore, the societal perception that COVID-19 is a disease of older people exacerbates already existing negative stereotypes about older persons who may be viewed as weak, unimportant and a burden on society. Such age-based discrimination may manifest itself in the differentiated provision of services with the treatment of older persons being perceived as having less value than the treatment of younger generations.
Stigma and discrimination can be exacerbated in a context where older persons have already been frequently overlooked such as in development and humanitarian strategies and in their funding. Considering the higher risks confronted by older persons in the COVID-19 pandemic, development and humanitarian strategies must explicitly identify and consider their needs, challenges and strengths at all levels and in all settings.
Adopting a human rights-based approach in the response to the health and economic crises enables policy makers to identify and respond to the differentiated needs of different segments of their population and address underlying and structural factors, thereby ensuring that no one is left behind. It can contribute to giving a voice to older persons and their organisations in the adoption of measures to mitigate challenges and in finding longer-term solutions.
A summary of the event can be found here:
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