Statement by High Commissioner at the 10th Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing established by the UN General Assembly

17 April 2019
Statement by High Commissioner at the 10th Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing established by the UN General Assembly

Statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Ms. Tatiana Moskalkova at the 10th Session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing established by the UN General Assembly

Mr. Chairman, Dear Colleagues!

About the relevance of ageing problem in the world and in Russia

A consistent increase in human life expectancy is an outstanding feature of humanity development.

According to expert estimates, the average life expectancy in the world is 67 years.
As of today, this rate amounts to 73 years in the Russian Federation. In 2024, it is expected to increase by 5 years, as a result of the implementation of the national State project «Health».
However, the process of longevity leads unavoidably to an increase in the number of so-called people of «third generation».

Throughout the 20th century, the proportion of elder persons in the world’s population has steadily increased. This trend is expected to continue in the 21st century as well. Therefore, for example, in 1950, the elderly aged 60 years and over amounted to 8% of the world’s population, in 2000 — the index increased to 10%, and in 2050, according to the UN forecasts, the proportion of the elderly population will reach 21%.

Persons over 60 years are projected to exceed the number of children for the first time in the history of mankind by 2050. Thus, the elderly population will reach 2 billion people and will be over 20% of the population.

The Russian Federation constitutes no exception in this matter. The share of older people in Russia has already reached 25% of the population and amounts to 37 million people.
Within older citizens there are women over 55 years and men over 60 years in Russia.

Throughout the pension reform pursued in the country since 1 January 2019, a gradual increase in the retirement age is planned. Hence, the retirement age for women will be 60 years and 65 years for men by 2023.

Thus, the ageing process of population is becoming one of the most significant social changes of the 21st century. This affects almost all sectors of society. Demographic ageing affects labor and financial markets, demand for goods and services, housing construction, transport and social services, as well as family structure and intergenerational relationships.

International dimension on the aging (in the UN instruments)

Over recent 30 years, the United Nations Organization has adopted a number of such fundamental instruments as:
— The Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing;
— The Declaration on Ageing
— The United Nations Principles for Older Persons entitled «Make a full life of the elderly»
— The Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging

These documents emphasize the relevance for ensuring that the elderly population of all countries of the world live with dignity in safe and decent conditions and participate in society as citizens with full rights, that they be protected from violence and discrimination; and the problem of ageing, in its turn, should be considered as a demographic, social, economic and cultural phenomenon.

The international community has also developed the understanding that resolving the problem is possible only if the efforts of governments and all interested groups of civil society are joined.

Policies and principles of the Russian Federation as a social welfare state on ensuring a decent life for the elderly persons

The Russian Federation, as a social welfare state, in accordance with the Constitution, pursues a consistent policy aimed at creating the conditions that ensure a decent life and free development of all categories of the population. Older people in the modern social policy of the state hold a specific place.

State support for older persons includes: pension payments, being indexed annually; a diversified system of benefits and additional payments, allowances and compensation payments.

For example, retirees are exempt from land tax, provided that the size of the land property is up to six hundredth parts of a hectare in size.

The State Strategy for action in the interests of the elderly up to the year of 2025 was adopted in 2016. The goal is to ensure the sustainable increase in life standards and quality of life of the older generation.

A significant milestone in the elderly persons Rights protection was the ratification by the Russian Federation of the Convention No. 102 of the International Labor Organization «On minimum standards of social security», the provisions of which serve as the international standard for the social rights of citizens, including the right to medical care, old age welfare, social security for illness or disability.

Starting this year and until 2024, within the project 1"Demografiya» the federal project «The older generation» is being carried out. The main objectives of the project are as follows.
Firstly, to increase the period of active longevity and the length of a healthy life.

In particular, by 2024, geriatric centers in all subjects of Russia are planned to be established, there the assistance will be provided to at least 160 thousand citizens of the age older than working age.

In 2020–2024, additional screenings of people over 65 living in rural areas will be conducted in order to identify certain socially important infective diseases that influence the level of mortality of the population.

At least 70 percent of people over working age will be covered by preventive and clinical examinations by the end of 2024.

Secondly, the project provides for the creation of a system of long-term care for elderly citizens and people with disabilities.

By 2022, a system of long-term care for elderly people and people with disabilities, including balanced social services and medical care at home, in semi-inpatient and inpatient form with the engagement of patronage services, as well as support for family care in all subjects of Russia is planned to be established.

Thirdly, the project is aimed at development of the social security system for elderly persons.
By the end of 2024 it is expected that the increase of social service establishments will be 100%, and 11 thousand elderly persons will be able to enjoy the services including comfortable living conditions.

If I could direct your attention to the screen. Here is one of the homes for the elderly in Moscow.
non-state social service sector will develop. By 2024, its share will be doubled compared to the current level and will amount to 19.1 percent of the total number of social service organizations.

Fourthly, pursuant to the project, activities for vocational training and additional professional education for people of pre-retirement age will be held.

In order to accomplish this goal, a Government program of vocational training and additional professional education of citizens of pre-retirement age for the period up to 2024 has been adopted. It is assumed that by the end of 2024 at least 450 thousand people will be trained.

Within the framework of this program, the training of citizens of pre-retirement age pursuant to the international professional standards of WorldSkills is prescribed. The program is free of charge for the Russian citizens. By the end of 2019, 25 thousand people will be trained by world standards.

Protection of the rights of pensioners. The role of the Commissioner. Statistical data on the number of complaints and outcomes of investigations

Certainly, the list of documents mentioned above is incomplete. There are also other measures of economic, social and other types of support.

We believe that a comprehensive approach is required in protection of the rights of the elderly. It is not only important to provide the elderly with a certain number of rights, it is also exceptionally important to ensure that those rights are actually being respected and enjoyed.

In this light, the task to ensure the rights to be respected and enjoyed is of particular relevance since in reality, unfortunately, the postulated standards are not always implemented in practice.
For example, it relates to the rendering of medical and social services, such as palliative and hospice aid, to older persons. At present, such aid is provided to no more than 15% of those who need it.

In the Russian Federation there are many state bodies and public organizations aimed at protecting the rights of pensioners. The state human rights protection system takes a special place among those organizations. It consists of the institution of the Federal Commissioner for Human Rights and regional commissioners for human rights who are active in each of 85 Russian federal entities.

The institution of commissioners is aimed at human rights protection by the means of complaints investigation when all other means of the state legal protection have been exhausted.

In 2018, in my capacity of the Federal Commissioner for Human Rights, I received 2614 appeals submitted by pensioners and veterans. The majority of the lodged complaints were thematically related to the issues of pensions, housing rights, and social protection.

Due to the joint effort with the General Prosecutor’s Office, social welfare authorities and many others we are able to reach a positive outcome on each out of 7–8 appeals.

The analysis of the complaints demonstrates that legal education is required for this category of citizens.

In this connection, we launched the legal education project «The legal marathon for pensioners» back in 2015, which aimed to assist in creation of the non-State system of social adaptation and public support for old adults and the elderly. Annually, legal advisors of our office conduct more than 500 consultations, we set up telephone «hot lines», organize «legal schools», and «days of legal information» and hold socio-economic fora for the people of old age.

It should be noted that the State supports projects of the media to raise awareness of living standards of the citizens of old age.

The print run of the printed media which pursue such projects will reach 500.000 by the year of 2014.

Also, among other things, the Federal Commissioner for Human Rights contributes to the improvement of the legislation submitting legislative proposals to this effect to Parliament.
According to my proposals the Labour Code of the Russian Federation have been amended to provide 2 paid days off a year to undertake medical check-ups for people of pre-retirement age, while other people of working age have 1 paid day off for this purpose.

Conclusions and proposals to address the issue of aging in the world

Dear colleagues,
Currently, the effective social mechanisms to protect the elderly from social deprivation are insipient. The determined search for effective strategies to establish global and national mechanisms (institutions) is required. Those mechanisms would have helped to change the role of the people of old age in the modern world, turn experience, knowledge and skills of the expanding «third generation» into the source of the economic and social development.

I believe it is of crucial importance to ensure the integration of the elderly and their associations into the State political decision-making process encouraging those who wishing to further their employment.

The aging of the population encourages societies to establish more effective and less costly systems of provision of social services. A strong trend towards independent living and away from institutional care in favour of home care is a typical example. Thus, family support and relations are again proved to be an important factor. That is why I believe the State support should be provided to maintain family relations.

For instance, more convenient working hours could be provided for individuals who are caregivers for their older relatives or payment for the time consumed by caring of an elderly family member.

I think that the priorities today are to expand the global humanitarian space and to ensure unified standards on the rights of older persons, taking into account countries’ socio-political, and economic circumstances, as well as diversity of the historical, religious and cultural contexts.

In this regard, I believe the development of State programs of active longevity is required. Such work has been started in Russia. In particular, within the framework of Russia and Japan a cross cultural year there were held a number of events aimed at raising awareness of the citizens of the latest medical technologies and lifestyles to stay young longer.

Currently, as it is well known are being conducted consultations on the draft of a new international instrument (convention) on the protection and promotion of the rights of the elderly. The issue of the «third generation» is increasingly debated in the academia, professional circles and within civil society, the media and social networks.

Undoubtedly, all this is important. On my part, I support the adoption of a legally binding document on the protection of the rights of the elderly. However, I believe that advancing along this path it is also essential to bear in mind ideas that it is possible to turn challenges into benefits by establishment of the conditions for better use of the elder generation’s experience, knowledge, skills as a source of the economic development.

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