In 1991, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons to provide a broader framework for action on ageing. The Principles are framed as 18 entitlements that older persons “should have.” They are organized into five areas relating to the status of the older person: Independence; participation; care; self-fulfillment; and dignity.
1. Older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help.
2. Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income- generating opportunities.
3. Older persons should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place.
4. Older persons should have access to appropriate educational and training programmes.
5. Older persons should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities.
6. Older persons should be able to reside at home for as long as possible.
7. Older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations.
8. Older persons should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities.
9. Older persons should be able to form movements or associations of older persons.
10. Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values.
11. Older persons should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness.
12. Older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care.
13. Older persons should be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment.
14. Older persons should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives.
15. Older persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential.
16. Older persons should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.
17. Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse.
18. Older persons should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.
Governments are encouraged to incorporate the UN Principles into national programmes whenever possible. The objective of drawing up the UN Principles was to provide a set of guidelines on entitlements of older persons to complement the existing International Plan of Action on Ageing. The UN Principles are forward looking strategies for Governments and are guidelines to assist them with dealing with demographic change.
The expectation is that Governments will understand the importance of implementing the UN Principles and will develop strategies to ensure that older persons are receiving those entitlements that the United Nations has indicated they should have.
Grey Power says:
Fiji’s State of the Nation and Economy Report (SNE) states at Chapter 5: Social Justice, Poverty Alleviation, Social Service Delivery & Human Rights:
“The goal of social justice should be to ensure the equality of dignity, especially of those who, through no fault of theirs, are disadvantaged and destitute. It must also ensure that everyone has a basic right to a dignified life and enjoy equality of citizenship, and that no-one lacks the basic necessities of life….”
In light of this SNE commitment, the Fiji Government is asked to adopt the UN Principles for Older Persons and not implement or enact any review of the Fiji National Provident which will violate these fundamental human rights principles for older persons set out by the United Nations.