Older persons and social protection - Independent Expert on human rights and extreme Poverty

The 2010 annual report of the independent expert on extreme poverty addressed the role that social protection systems play in reducing extreme poverty and contributing to the realization of human rights of older persons. In particular, the report focused on the relevance of social pensions. The independent expert presented her work at the Human Rights Council on 3rd June 2010.

The world population is ageing, to the point that the number of persons over 60 years of age is likely to increase by 200 percent by 2050. The phenomenon of poverty in old age is increasingly catching the attention of analysts and policy-makers. Considering the vulnerability of older persons, States must take appropriate measures to establish social security schemes that provide benefits to all older persons without discrimination of any kind and ensure equal rights for men and women.

Social pensions consist of cash benefits received by persons above a given age that do not require prior compulsory contributions from beneficiaries, employers or the State. Social pensions are an important dimension of social security systems. Today, many people worldwide work outside the formal employment sector and traditional informal support systems for older people are changing under the pressure of increased longevity, widespread poverty, the impact of HIV/AIDS and migration. Contributory pension schemes (e.g. employment-based pensions) only reach a minority of all older persons.

In this report, the independent expert called on States to recognize that social pensions are critical elements for the progressive realization of the right to social security for older persons. The report also provided recommendations on how to ensure that non-contributory pensions comply with core human rights standards. Finally, it addressed the role of international assistance and cooperation in the field of social security.

Questionnaire to Governments on social protection of older persons

To collect information to prepare this report the independent expert sent a questionnaire to Governments requesting information on their social pensions for older persons. The questionnaire addressed: (i) the legal and institutional framework; (ii) the schemes costs and coverage; (iii) implementation procedures; (iv) monitoring mechanisms and complaints procedures; and (v) studies and evaluations. To read the questionnaire click here: English, French and Spanish.

To see the responses received from Governments click here: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chad, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Mali, México, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Zambia.

Expert Meeting on Human Rights and Social Protection for Older Persons 8 and 9 February 2010

The report benefitted from a review of the existing literature on the topic of old age poverty and an expert meeting convened by the expert and organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the support of Help Age International and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, on 8-9 February 2010. Twenty five experts from governments, NGOs, UN agencies, and academic institutions attended the meeting and contributed to the independent expert’s evaluations on social pensions. Agenda and Concept note.