Coming of Age: UN International Day

Officially held on 1 October each year, the International Day of Older Persons was designated by the UN General Assembly on 14 December 1990 (Resolution 45/106). It was observed for the first time on l October 1991. Its aim is to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly such as senescence and elder abuse. It is also a day to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society similar to Grandparents Day in the USA and Canada as well as Respect for the Aged Day in Japan.
The observance is a focus for ageing organisations and the United Nations Programme on Ageing. There are many NGO Members of NGO Committees on Ageing at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna who act as pressure groups to ensure that issues for older persons remain high on the agenda.
Coming of Age
The 21st Annual Celebration of UN International Day of Older Persons was held on 3 October 2011 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Organised by the Association of Former International Civil Servants (AFICS) with participating organisations, its forward looking theme was “Active and Healthy Ageing 2012”.
The President of AFICS delivered a message from the UN Secretary-General. A video presentation was made by the European Union, DG Employment, Social Affairs on ‘The European Year on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’ followed by speakers on the themes of Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing MIPAA+10 years, Healthy Ageing +, Science-based approach, Human Right-based approach.
UN International Day
In the challenging context of changing demographics and an increasingly ageing population since the last decade of the twentieth century, most countries have witnessed an increase in the number and proportion of people aged 80 years and above creating an (in)visible and critical target for long-term economic, social, health and other coordinated policies across the globe. Many countries are developing programmes but what is urgently needed is a more integrated approach to meet the major challenges that exist.
The event on 3 October 2011 in the Palais des Nations covered several issues relating to health, science and human rights for older persons. Using impressive power point presentations showing images and statistics, it emphasised the need for inter-generational solidarity and a pressing requirement for the United Nations and its organisations to establish legislative instruments to include the creation of a specific body and person(s) responsible within the United Nations system for Older Persons.
The event concluded with a brief exchange of views and participants were invited to a celebratory cocktail on the terrace of the 8th floor for all to enjoy the beautiful lake and unique mountain views from the prestigious building of the Palais des Nations.
Ita Marguet
Note: Official documents were available including the The 20th Annual Celebration of the UN International Day of Older Persons, UN Geneva. Panel Report on “Long Life Development for Older Persons” How are we advancing with UN Global Strategies?