General Comment No. 6 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Older Persons
The world population is ageing at a steady, quite spectacular rate. The total number of persons aged 60 and above rose from 200 million in 1950 to 400 million in 1982 and is projected to reach 600 million in the year 2001 and 1.2 billion by the year 2025, at which time over 70 per cent of them will be living in what are today’s developing countries. The number of people aged 80 and above has grown and continues to grow even more dramatically, rising from 13 million in 1950 to over 50 million today, and is projected to increase to 137 million in 2025. This is the fastest growing population group in the world, projected to increase by a factor of 10 between 1950 and 2025, compared with a factor of six for the group aged 60 and above and a factor of little more than three for the total population.
Most of the States parties to the Covenant, and the industrialized countries in particular, are faced with the task of adapting their social and economic policies to the ageing of their populations, especially as regards social security. In the developing countries, the absence or deficiencies of social security coverage are being aggravated by the emigration of the younger members of the population and the consequent weakening of the traditional role of the family, the main support of older people.
Accordingly, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is of the view that States parties to the Covenant are obligated to pay particular attention to promoting and protecting the economic, social and cultural rights of older persons. The Committee’s own role in this regard is rendered all the more important by the fact that, unlike the case of other population groups such as women and children, no comprehensive international convention yet exists in relation to the rights of older persons and no binding supervisory arrangements attach to the various sets of United Nations principles in this area.