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    A neglected area in the field of population and human rights: aging and the aged.

    World Assembly on Aging

    In: United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population and human rights: proceedings of the Symposium on Population and Human Rights, Vienna, 29 June-3 July 1981. New York, New York, United Nations, 1983. 102-9.

    Until 1948, only a few developed countries had been concerned with aging as an issue. However, this situation is currently changing, and it is expected to change considerably in the near future, since both the number and proportion of the aged in the population are projected to increase a great deal. This is an unprecedented situation for many developing countries, and appropriate responses have yet to be developed. It is in this context that the Secretary-General of the UN prepared for the World Assembly on Aging held in July 1982 a draft program and suggested that there should be a declaration on the rights of the aged. 2 kinds of issues have been identified; 1) humanitarian issues such as health, housing environment, social welfare, income security, education, and the family, and 2) developmental issues. From the humanitarian point of view, it is the individual rights of the aged that are most identifiable; e.g., the rights to assistance, accommodation, food, clothing, care of physical and moral health, recreation, work, stability, and respect. 2 demographic aspects need to be considered: 1) because of differentials in mortality, in many countries the aged group is composed of a majority of women; and 2) the aged can be disabled to some extent or for certain periods during their later years. This gives rise to the question of special rights for the aged. With the increase in the numbers and proportions of the aged, their rights have direct implication for development--cost can be a limiting factor in the exercise of a right. 1 of the objectives derived from the principles of the Declaratin on Social Progress and Development is "the establishment and improvement of social security and insurance schemes for all persons who, because of illness, disability, or old age, are temporarily or permanently unable to earn a living..." Thus human rights have an important role to play in ensuring that the aged remain active participants and enjoy their contribution to development.
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