UN Ageing site The Second World Assembly on Ageing
A/CONF.197/9

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Political Declaration

Article 1

We, the representatives of Governments meeting at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, have decided to adopt an International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002 to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the twenty-first century and to promote the development of a society for all ages. In the context of the Plan of Action, we are committed to actions at all levels, including national and international levels, on three priority directions: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

Article 2

We celebrate rising life expectancy in many regions of the world as one of humanity’s major achievements. We recognize that the world is experiencing an unprecedented demographic transformation and that by 2050 the number of persons aged 60 years and over will increase from 600 million to almost 2 billion and that the proportion of persons aged 60 years and over is expected to double from 10 to 21 per cent. The increase will be greatest and most rapid in developing countries where the older population is expected to quadruple during the next 50 years. This demographic transformation challenges all our societies to promote increased opportunities, in particular opportunities for older persons to realize their potential to participate fully in all aspects of life.

Article 3

We reiterate the commitments made by our heads of State and Governments at major United Nations conferences and summits, at their follow-up processes and in the Millennium Declaration with respect to the promotion of international and national environments that will foster a society for all ages. We furthermore reaffirm the principles and recommendations for action of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, and the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1991, which provided guidance in areas of independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity.

Article 4

We emphasize that, in order to complement national efforts to fully implement the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, enhanced international cooperation is essential. We therefore encourage the international community to further promote cooperation among all actors involved.

Article 5

We reaffirm the commitment to spare no effort to promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law and promote gender equality, as well as to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development. We commit ourselves to eliminating all forms of discrimination, including age discrimination. We also recognize that persons, as they age, should enjoy a life of fulfilment, health, security and active participation in the economic, social, cultural and political life of their societies. We are determined to enhance the recognition of the dignity of older persons and to eliminate all forms of neglect, abuse and violence.

Article 6

The modern world has unprecedented wealth and technological capacity and has presented extraordinary opportunities: to empower men and women to reach old age in better health and with more fully realized well-being; to seek the full inclusion and participation of older persons in societies; to enable older persons to contribute more effectively to their communities and to the development of their societies; and to steadily improve care and support for older persons as they need it. We recognize that concerted action is required to transform the opportunities and the quality of life of men and women as they age and to ensure the sustainability of their support systems, thus building the foundation for a society for all ages. When ageing is embraced as an achievement, the reliance on human skills, experiences and resources of the higher age groups is naturally recognized as an asset in the growth of mature, fully integrated, humane societies.

Article 7

At the same time, considerable obstacles to further integration and full participation in the global economy remain for developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, as well as for some countries with economies in transition. Unless the benefits of social and economic development are extended to all countries, a growing number of people, particularly older persons in all countries and even entire regions, will remain marginalized from the global economy. For this reason, we recognize the importance of placing ageing in development agendas, as well as in strategies for the eradication of poverty and in seeking to achieve full participation in the global economy of all developing countries.

Article 8

We commit ourselves to the task of effectively incorporating ageing within social and economic strategies, policies and action while recognizing that specific policies will vary according to conditions within each country. We recognize the need to mainstream a gender perspective into all policies and programmes to take account of the needs and experiences of older women and men.

Article 9

We commit ourselves to protect and assist older persons in situations of armed conflict and foreign occupation.

Article 10

The potential of older persons is a powerful basis for future development. This enables society to rely increasingly on the skills, experience and wisdom of older persons, not only to take the lead in their own betterment but also to participate actively in that of society as a whole.

Article 11

We emphasize the importance of international research on ageing and agerelated issues as an important instrument for the formulation of policies on ageing, based on reliable and harmonized indicators developed by, inter alia, national and international statistical organizations.

Article 12

The expectations of older persons and the economic needs of society demand that older persons be able to participate in the economic, political, social and cultural life of their societies. Older persons should have the opportunity to work for as long as they wish and are able to, in satisfying and productive work, continuing to have access to education and training programmes. The empowerment of older persons and the promotion of their full participation are essential elements for active ageing. For older persons, appropriate sustainable social support should be provided.

Article 13

We stress the primary responsibility of Governments in promoting, providing and ensuring access to basic social services, bearing in mind specific needs of older persons. To this end we need to work together with local authorities, civil society, including non-governmental organizations, the private sector, volunteers and voluntary organizations, older persons themselves and associations for and of older persons, as well as families and communities.

Article 14

We recognize the need to achieve progressively the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. We reaffirm that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important worldwide social goal, the realization of which requires action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector. We commit ourselves to providing older persons with universal and equal access to health care and services, including physical and mental health services, and we recognize that the growing needs of an ageing population require additional policies, in particular care and treatment, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and supportive environments. We shall promote independence, accessibility and the empowerment of older persons to participate fully in all aspects of society. We recognize the contribution of older persons to development in their role as caregivers.

Article 15

We recognize the important role played by families, volunteers, communities, older persons organizations and other community-based organizations in providing support and informal care to older persons in addition to services provided by Governments.

Article 16

We recognize the need to strengthen solidarity among generations and intergenerational partnerships, keeping in mind the particular needs of both older and younger ones, and to encourage mutually responsive relationships between generations.

Article 17

Governments have the primary responsibility for providing leadership on ageing matters and on the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, but effective collaboration between national and local Governments, international agencies, older persons themselves and their organizations, other parts of civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector is essential. The implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002 will require the partnership and involvement of many stakeholders: professional organizations; corporations; workers and workers organizations; cooperatives; research, academic and other educational and religious institutions; and the media.

Article 18

We underline the important role of the United Nations system, including the regional commissions, in assisting the Governments, at their request, in the implementation, follow-up and national monitoring of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, taking into account the differences in economic, social and demographic conditions existing among countries and regions.

Article 19

We invite all people in all countries from every sector of society, individually and collectively, to join in our dedication to a shared vision of equality for persons of all ages.


Adopted at the 10th plenary meeting of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, on 12 April 2002; Resolution 1

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