On July 6, 2017, I attended the eighth session of the working group as an Action for Peace Through Prayer and Aid(APPA) intern. To discuss various issues on human rights of older people, many representatives and NGOs participated in the session. In this session, age discrimination and elder abuse were primarily discussed, and various expert panelists emphasized the significance of the rights of the elderly. These issues are the great challenge and growing matter globally as the average age of the global population is getting older. Moreover, without much research on this subject and many cases to be studied, public awareness on this matter is quite low. According to the statistical data of South Korea, inflictor of the elder abuse case typically is the family member such as son, spouse, and daughter. Therefore, the report rate is low level since the victims are less willing to report the violence committed by their family member. Further, it is invisible because most of the elder abuse occur domestically. Accordingly, the expert panels asserted the urgency of setting system institutionally and legally for protecting the rights of the elderly. Also, they insisted the criminalization of the age discrimination and the elder abuse. Maria Reyes, a former chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said that even though there are diverse conventions on human rights, there is no mention of protection of elder rights. Even in the Sustainable Development Goals of UN, there is no goal specifically dedicated for the elder rights. Thus, she emphasized the importance of the treaty for elder rights. Following the expert panelists’ representations, a number of national delegations introduced the policies of the elderly in each country. After a Q&A time to ask questions to the expert panelists, the session has concluded. This was the first session I ever attended the UN conference. It was an honor to me to be able to actively participate in the conference – before this, I just listened to the guide, watching the empty chamber. The earphones that were placed in each seat translated whichever language the speaker is speaking into five languages – English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Prior to this conference, I learned about elder abuse through an undergraduate course called ‘Geriatric Nursing. ’ By attending this conference, it was a great opportunity for me to see how the elder issue is dealt with internationally. Lastly, it was impressive to watch that the delegates from each country actively ask the experts panel and inform each state’s current law on elder rights.
APPA UN NGO Intern Handong International Law School Youngok Kim