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Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions for #IDOP2018

A ‘champion’ is an individual that facilitates change – whether it’s organizational, institutional, or social – and is active throughout all the stages of change.  The role of champion involves taking on a position of influence by establishing direction, aligning resources, generating motivation and providing inspiration.  In the context of human rights, champions are the key to ensuring long-term engagement in advocacy and action towards better human rights for all.

International Day of Older Persons 2018

The 2018 theme of United Nations (UN) International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) is “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions”.  Corresponding with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948, this year’s theme was chosen to promote the rights enshrined in the Declaration and reflect on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons.

Recently, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons published a report about the social exclusion of older persons and how it impacts their access to basic human rights.  With ageism being pervasive across all levels of society, social exclusion of older persons manifests across numerous areas of life and of policy – including housing, health, employment, social protection, and urban development.

For decades, civil society has played an important role in raising the profile of this issue within the UN system.  In fact, many of those who are champions for the human rights of older persons are ‘older’ themselves.  The focus of IDOP 2018 on raising the visibility of older people as active members of society who are leaders of change helps to challenge negative stereotypes and combat ageism.

The IFA’s Human Rights Champions

The IFA is proud to have UN representatives in New York, Vienna and Geneva who are fierce advocates for the promotion and protection of human rights for older persons globally:

  • New York: Ms Helen Hamlin, Ms Valerie Levy, Mr James O’Neal, Dr Cynthia Stuen, Dr Sandy Timmerman, and Ms Frances Zainoeddin
  • Vienna: Dr Jacqueline Stark
  • Geneva: Dr Kelly Fitzgerald

The IFA’s UN reps are also leading the charge with the IDOP events this year:

Dr. Jacqueline Stark:

IDOP Organizing Committee and Speaker on ‘the Role of Language in the Context of Human Rights’, Vienna

Human rights are fundamental for all persons from all walks of life. However, they become even more  important for older persons who may be confronted with life-changing experiences, where help or care often become necessary. In the context of human rights, language is our connection to the world! Without it, life would be unthinkable. 


Mr. James O’Neal:

Chair, UNIDOP subcommittee, NGO Committee on Ageing New York, New York

Human Rights are issues of importance to all people, although both younger and older adults themselves tend to characterize older people as being invisible. Once a person reaches 50 years of age, they are often considered irrelevant, yet they can be in the most productive years of their lives.


Share your stories

Increase the visibility of older persons as champions of human rights by sharing stories on social media with the hashtags: #IDOP2018  #standup4humanrights  #olderHRchampions  #AgeingEqual

Learn more about the Ageing Equal campaign here.

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