I am currently in the 'thesis pending' stage of my PhD which is entitled "Working Towards an International Normative Framework for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons".
Set in the context of unprecedented global ageing and focusing upon the urban, developed world, this research considers the extent to which the existing international normative frameworks protect the rights of older persons in the developed world and what legal changes may be required to improve their normative protection.
Chapter one then begins with a consideration of the threats and challenges faces older persons. based around an exploratory, largely descriptive doctrinal analysis of existing primary and secondary empirical data concerning older persons, an interdisciplinary approach is employed to take account of the broadest possible range of socio-legal, sociological and statistical sources including academic research, advocacy organisation studies and statistical data. In organising this review, the United Nations Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) and the eighteen key human rights 'issues' it identifies, is employed as a structural framework by which to group the research findings.
Chapter two goes on to analyse whether the existing, international legal human rights standards adequately address the issues identified in the first chapter and the approach taken by the relevant international legal bodies towards rapid demographic ageing. This includes a longitudinal historical analysis of the United Nations, The Council of Europe, and the European Union and their engagement with older persons alongside a doctrinal examination of the existing international legal instrument offered by those bodies with have direct or indirect relevance to the priority concerns identified in the first chapter. Specific attention will be paid here to the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWGA) and its process, progress and outcomes in addressing the perceived shortfalls in the rights protection of older persons.
Finally, chapter three will posit a number of suggestions for how the international protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons might be improved. Drawing upon the experience of the most recently successful international human rights convention, the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, comparisons will be drawn between the development of that convention and that of the OEWGA in assessing the current progress of the OEWGA, the specific barriers and challenges it may face and how these may best be addressed to achieve the best possible outcomes. Consideration will also be given to alternative approaches to an international convention and the ways in which civil society might support these processes.
The supervisors for this thesis are Associate Professor Ralph Sandland with the support of Thalej Vasishta of Paragon Law. This work has been funded by the AHRC.