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New Study: Against Ageism and towards active social citizenship for older persons

This study explains the critical role of the European Social Charter in advancing and protecting the rights of older persons in Europe.

Professor Gerald Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, together with Professor Israel Doron have conducted a study to explain the critical role of the European Social Charter in advancing and protecting the rights of older persons in Europe. It is designed to be used by civil society groups of older persons and other organisations to enable them to engage effectively with the machinery of the Charter and to use its jurisprudence in the development of domestic advocacy strategies for reform. It provides guidance to policy makers as they open a new policy on the rights of older persons.

For EASPD, it is helpful to better understand the role of support services in helping older persons with disabilities in achieving their rights, in line with the European Social Charter.

The European Social Charter was the first legally binding international instrument in the world to make explicit provision for the social rights of older persons. The Charter has adopted an approach which included two distinct novel elements which referred to the rights of older persons living in institutions, these focused on:

  1. Meaningful participation in society and,
  2. Independence and life choices in old age.

The European Committee of Social Rights has developed a sophisticated theory of equality and non-discrimination with direct implications for older persons. It has developed a theory of equality including aspects of inclusion, legal capacity, and active social citizenship.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the analysis of this study:

  1. The ageing of Europe is a major social opportunity and a challenge.
  2. The European Social Charter should reflect and be attentive to global developments in the human rights of older persons.
  3. Article 23 has become an important instrument to promote the social rights of older persons and to broaden their material scope especially in ensuring full participation in society and protecting their independence.
  4. The committee has considered new dimensions such as:
    1. The importance of anti-discrimination and framework legislation beyond the narrow framework of employment law.
    2. The central role of legal capacity and the need for supportive decision-making mechanisms to expand legal capacity.
    3. The support of informal and family based elder care as an instrument to preserve and promote the social rights of older persons.
  5. Dealing with residual ageism as the European Social Charter has always been at the forefront in adopting a rights-based perspective on age.