Ageing in Mauritius: Access to Justice

The ageing of the global population is rapidly increasing. According to the WHO, “between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of people aged 60 years and over should rise from 605 million to 2 billion”.

In Mauritius, this situation is not much different from other parts of the globe. In the period 1972-2015, the percentage of people over 60 years increased from 5.9% to 14.8% (Le Mauricien, 2017).

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Ageing in Mauritius: Social Protection and Social Security

The following report deals with a normative input about “Ageing” in Mauritius concerning the sub-items “Social Protection and Social Security” in regards to the Open-ended Working Group “Tenth working session” of the UN (New York, 15–18 April 2019). 

According to the ‘Mauritian population (live) clock’ made by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the current population density on the 20 August 2019 is about 1,294,683 of which there have been about 9,297 new births and 6,012 deaths this year (Official United Nations population estimates: 2019).

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International Youth Day 2019: Concept Note on “Transforming Education”

The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming education”, highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” –  International Youth Day 2019 will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education and how these efforts are contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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12 August: International Youth Day 2019

This day is an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as key partners in change.

This day is also an opportunity to make young people aware of the challenges and problems they face.

According to the UN DESA report, World Population Prospects 2019, the global youth population is expected to reach nearly 1.4 billion people by 2065. By 2019, there are about 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years in the world, or 16% of the world’s population. By 2065, the world’s youth population will reach its peak with just under 1.4 billion people (13%). The share of youth in the total population peaked at 19.3% in 1985. In 2019, Central and Southern Asia had the highest number of young people (361 million), followed by East Asia and South East (307 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (211 million).

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2 October: International Day of Non-Violence

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” – Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927

The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

According to General Assembly resolutionA/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.

Introducing the resolution in the General Assembly on behalf of 140 co-sponsors, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Anand Sharma, said that the wide and diverse sponsorship of the resolution was a reflection of the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and of the enduring relevance of his philosophy. Quoting the late leader’s own words, he said: “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.

The life and leadership of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The theory behind his actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British law as with the historic Salt March of 1930, was that “just means lead to just ends”; that is, it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.

Definition of Non-Violence

The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as “the politics of ordinary people”, this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.

Professor Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance, uses the following definition in his publication, The Politics of Nonviolent Action:

“Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively.”

While non-violence is frequently used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid-twentieth century the term non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war.

One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.

There are three main categories of non-violence action:

  • protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
  • non-cooperation; and
  • non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

Documents

1 October: International Day of Older Persons

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons.

This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing – which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing – and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.

In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The theme of the 2015 commemoration is “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment”.

Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of “Leaving No-One Behind” necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century. If our ambition is to “Build the Future We Want”, we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.

Background

The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010 life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years, and it is projected to increase to 81 by the end of the century. It should be noted that at present women outnumber men by an estimated 66 million among those aged 60 years or over. Among those aged 80 years or over, women are nearly twice as numerous as men, and among centenarians women are between four and five times as numerous as men. For the first time in human history, in 2050, there will be more persons over 60 than children in the world.

Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth. With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required. Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place. Human rights lie at the core of all efforts in this regard.

The introduction of new policies and programmes

During the last decade, population ageing has led to the introduction of new policies and programmes, in which the social sector has taken centre stage, as shown by the majority of contributions to the present report. Many Governments in developed and developing economies have designed or piloted innovative policies in the health, social security or welfare systems. In addition, several policy framework documents, including national plans of action on ageing have been enacted. Specific age-related legislative measures in areas as varied as building codes, licensing and monitoring of care centres and vocational training have also begun to emerge. All levels of government, from local to national, have taken a share in this responsibility, and have either created new institutions or renewed existing ones to seek ways of gradually responding to the challenges faced by older persons.

Understanding the roles of older persons in family and society

Government institutions have chosen diverse approaches in setting priorities. These choices highlight different perceptions of the role that older people play in the family and in society at large. In some cases, measures aim to capture the rapidly evolving dynamics of communities and societies, inviting a second look at current perceptions about older persons and work, elder-care mechanisms, intergenerational support systems and financial constraints. Some Governments have designed policies founded on the principle of active ageing and autonomy, aimed at facilitating the continuation of independent lives at home, with services and facilities that cater for various types of needs. Others emphasize family ties and support for the family unit as the primary source of care for older persons. In all cases, a network of private actors, including various volunteer organizations and community-based centres, are essential to the smooth functioning of the entire system.

Of special resonance is the situation of older women who face inequalities as a result of their gender-based roles in society. Gender relations structure the entire life cycle, influencing access to resources and opportunities, with an impact that is both ongoing and cumulative. The different circumstances that shape the lives of women and men in old age are the outcome of a lifetime of experience. Good health, economic security, adequate housing, an enabling environment, access to land or other productive resources, these are the fundamentals of ageing with dignity, yet achieving them depends on decisions and choices only partly determined by each individual. The impact of gender inequalities in education and employment becomes most pronounced in old age. As a result, older women are more likely than older men to be poor. Furthermore, older women often take on greater responsibilities for family care while managing inflexible working conditions, mandatory retirement ages and inadequate pensions and other social security benefits, which leave them, and those in their care, extremely vulnerable. Without doubt, ageing, its human rights challenges and its feminization constitute an unprecedented shift in the social fabric of all societies, with far-reaching consequences.

Addressing the situation

The international community started to highlight the situation of older persons in the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted at the World Assembly on Ageing in 1982. The 1991 United Nations Principles for Older Persons, the 1992 Global Targets on Ageing for the Year 2001 and the 1992 Proclamation on Ageing further advanced international understanding of essential requirements for the well-being of older persons.

The Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing, and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 57/167, reinvigorated the political consensus on an agenda on ageing, emphasizing development and international cooperation and assistance in this area. Since its adoption, the Madrid International Plan has guided the drafting of policies and programmes at the national level, inspired the development of national and regional plans and provided an international framework for dialogue.

The Madrid International Plan of Action

In the Political Declaration adopted in Madrid, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, and called for the elimination of age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence. More specifically, the Madrid International Plan contained guidance on the right to work, the right to health, participation and equality of opportunity throughout life, stressing the importance of the participation of older persons in decision-making processes at all levels.

The priorities set out in the Madrid International Plan of Action include a wide range of issues: equal employment opportunities for all older persons; programmes that enable all workers to acquire social protection and social security, including, where applicable, pensions, disability insurance and health benefits; and sufficient minimum income for all older persons, with particular attention to socially and economically disadvantaged groups. The importance of continuous education, vocational guidance and placement services are also stressed, including for the purpose of maintaining a maximum functional capacity and enhancing public recognition of the productivity and the contributions of older persons. Health is also a key feature of the Madrid Plan of Action. The provisions encompass notions of prevention, equal access to health care, active participation, the impact of HIV/AIDS in respect to older persons and the full functionality of supportive and care-giving environments.

Basic Human Rights

There are numerous obligations vis-à-vis older persons implicit in most core human rights treaties despite the lack of specific provisions focusing on them. Such instruments apply to older persons in the same way as to all other people, providing protection for essential human rights, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and equality before the law as well as for an adequate standard of living without discrimination on any grounds.

Article source: United Nations