UN Secretary-General calls for international guidelines for protection of elderly

UN Secretary-General calls for international guidelines for protection of elderly

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for the development of global guidelines to protect the rights of the elderly, in his first-ever report on abuse of older persons.

The report was launched in the lead up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing, set for Madrid from 8 to 12 April. The final preparatory meeting for that Assembly opened yesterday.

The physical, sexual and emotional abuse of older people, as well as their financial exploitation, commonly goes unnoticed and unreported, with only the most severe cases receiving attention, the report states.

Global statistics on the incidence of abuse of the aged are sorely lacking, but the report details what is known about the nature of abuse, from national examinations undertaken in many countries.

At a press conference to launch the report at UN Headquarters in New York, the chief of the UN's Social Integration Branch, Odile Frank, explained that it was difficult to measure the global extent of abuse of older people with any accuracy, and estimates would be premature.

However, she described the report as "a rich compendium of qualitative information on this intolerable aspect of human behaviour." It was a brief but powerful report, she said, and she recommended it to all those interested in the human condition.