Going Grey and Facing Age Discrimination: Moving Towards an International Treaty on the Rights of Older Persons
For more than two decades attorney Catherine Morris has conducted research, education, and advocacy in the field of international human rights. Her article illuminates an issue that impacts vast numbers of people regardless of nationality. Concerns for the well being of older persons are rarely framed as human rights issues entrenched in age discrimination. This may now be changing after the shocking revelations of maltreatment and excess deaths of older persons in Canadian care homes in 2020. In the United States, the CDC continues to report that 90% percentage of COVID-19 deaths compromise those 65 and older. In both Canada and the U.S. the epicenter of the mortality burden of Covid is among those referred to as “elderly.” Morris states the abuses exposed in 2020 were predictable consequences of Canada’s longstanding neglect of older persons’ fundamental rights. Decades of efforts by Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) along with international CSOs, and UN human rights bodies may now be gaining traction in a drive for a United Nations (UN) treaty to spell out and guarantee the fundamental human rights of older persons around the world. But efforts may continue to stall until leaders in Canada and other countries come to grips with the root cause of the abuses – endemic ageism.