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On Ageing in the Arab World


In April 2002, delegates of 160 governments, intergovernmental institutions and NGOs came together at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain, in order to revise the Vienna Plan on Ageing and establish a long-term strategy for aging populations.

The Assembly adopted a document entitled the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), which commits governments to integrate the rights and needs of older persons into national, as well as international, economic and social development policies.

In response to the General Assembly Resolution 61/142, concerning the follow-up of the Second World Assembly on Ageing, in addition to the Economic and Social Council Resolution 1/45, issued by the Commission for Social Development, the Population and Social Policy Team of the UN-ESCWA Social Development Division convened a regional seminar on the “Review and Appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA)” on 20 - 21 November 2007, at the Radisson SAS Hotel, Amman - Jordan. The meeting was held under the patronage of the Minister of Social Development, represented by the Executive Director of the Ministry Mr. Hussein Abu Al Ruz. It brought together a mixture of government representatives from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), representatives of UN agencies and international organizations including the League of Arab States, WHO, UNFPA, representatives of selected regional NGOs, such as the Arab Family Organization, and experts and researchers in ageing in the region.

The meeting presented a chance to monitor the progress made in implementing the MIPAA recommendations in the UN-ESCWA region, five years after its adoption. It was also an opportunity to share experiences and best practices in promoting the cause of the older people. The outcome of the Seminar will serve as UN-ESCWA’s submission into the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs report, which is to be reported to the 46th session of the Commission for Social Development in February 2008.
The meeting discussed the newest literature on ageing, focusing on the achievements made in the UN-ESCWA countries and the remaining challenges in matters of policy formulation, program implementation, advocacy and promoting the cause of elder people. It debated the availability of data and analysis, ascertained the current individual and institutional capacity in the different countries to respond to the growing needs of the older people and made specific recommendations for the governments in the region to follow through.
The meeting finally proposed to approach ageing issues from an integrated social policy perspective, highlighting issues of social equity and equal opportunity environments as important parameters in addressing ageing issues; a social policy that also observes the cultural sensitivity of member countries.