human rights

The Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons establishes guidelines to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment and exercise of the rights of older persons.

Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons

The Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons protects the human rights and freedoms of older persons.

This Convention has constitutional hierarchy, that is, it is part of the National Constitution.

For the Convention, an older person is one who is 60 years of age or older, unless the law of each country determines a different age. The Convention establishes that the base age from which a person must be considered older cannot be greater than 65 years.

The principles of the Convention are:

  • The promotion and defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the elderly.
  • The appreciation of the elderly, their role in society and contribution to development.
  • The dignity, independence, leadership and autonomy of the elderly person.
  • Equality and non-discrimination.
  • Participation, integration and inclusion in society.
  • Well-being and care.
  • Physical, economic and social security.
  • self-actualization
  • Equity and gender equality.
  • Solidarity and strengthening of family and community protection.
  • Good treatment and preferential attention.
  • Respect and appreciation of cultural diversity.
  • Effective judicial protection.
  • The responsibility of the State and the participation of the family and the community in the integration of the elderly person, as well as in their care and attention, in accordance with their internal legislation.

Duties of the State

The States Parties must protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of older persons. To fulfill that duty, States must:

  • Take measures to prevent, punish and eliminate practices of isolation, abandonment, physical restraints, overcrowding, expulsions from the community, denial of nutrition, infantilization, inadequate or disproportionate medical treatment and all cruel, inhuman or degrading ill-treatment or punishment to the old person.
  • Not take legislative measures that are incompatible with the Convention.
  • Adopt measures to give older people differentiated and preferential treatment in all areas.
  • Adopt measures to achieve the full effectiveness of the economic, social and cultural rights of the older person.
  • Promote public institutions specialized in the protection and promotion of the rights of the elderly and their integral development.
  • Promote the participation of civil society in the preparation, application and control of public policies and legislation aimed at the application of the Convention.
  • Promote the collection of adequate information to give effect to the Convention.

Rights of the elderly

The rights of the elderly protected by this Convention are:

  • Equality and non-discrimination for reasons of age. Age discrimination in old age is prohibited.
  • Right to life and dignity in old age.
  • Right to independence and autonomy: the right of the elderly person to make decisions, to develop an autonomous and independent life, to choose their place of residence and where and with whom to live is recognized.
  • Right to participation and community integration.
  • Right to safety and to a life without any type of violence.
  • Right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Right to accessibility and personal mobility.


  • Right to health
  • Right to give free and informed consent in the field of health. Health institutions and professionals cannot carry out any treatment, intervention or research of a medical or surgical nature without the consent of the older person.
  • Right to receive long-term care services.


  • Right to personal liberty.
  • Right to freedom of expression and opinion and access to information.
  • Right to nationality and freedom of movement.
  • Right to privacy and intimacy.

Work and social security

  • The right to social security. Every older person has the right to social security to lead a dignified life.
  • Right to work. Older people have the right to dignified and decent work and equal opportunities and treatment with other workers, whatever their age.
  • Education and culture
  • Education rights. The older person has the right to education on equal terms with other sectors of the population and without discrimination.
  • Right to culture. The older person has the right to their cultural identity, to participate in the cultural and artistic life of the community and to share their knowledge and experiences.
  • Right to recreation, leisure and sport.

Right to property

  • Right to property. No older person can be deprived of their assets, except by paying fair compensation, for reasons of public utility or social interest and in the cases and according to the forms established by law.
  • Right to housing.


  • Right to a healthy environment

Political rights

  • Political rights. The older person has the right to participate in political and public life on equal terms with others and not to be discriminated against for reasons of age.
  • Right of assembly and association.

Risk situations

  • Older people must be protected in situations of risk, such as armed conflicts, humanitarian emergencies and disasters.

Access to justice

  • Access to justice. The older person has the right to be heard, with due guarantees and within a reasonable time, by a competent, independent and impartial judge or court.
  • Equal recognition as a person before the law. The older person has legal capacity on equal terms with others in all aspects of life.
  • The action of the judges must be quick if the health or life of the elderly person is at risk.

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