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HRC Holds Dialogue with Independent Expert on Older Persons and Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Sl
September 9, 2014

Agenda Item 3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on Older Persons, Rosa Kornfield-Matte and Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola
As Delivered by Valerie Ullrich
27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
September 8, 2014, 3:00 pm

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

We welcome this opportunity to interact with the new Independent Expert on older persons and thank Ms. Kornfeld-Matte for her report.

The report mentions the Independent Expert’s intent to complement rather than duplicate the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing; to assess how member states implement the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and laws relating to older persons; and to identify best practices.  The United States strongly supports all of those approaches.

We agree with the report’s observation that although there is no international instrument devoted solely to older persons, most human rights treaties contain implicit obligations toward them.  This is consistent with the U.S. view that the protections found in international human rights instruments apply to persons of all ages, including older persons.

While we do not regard many of the important issue areas identified by the Independent Expert as “rights,”  the United States nonetheless believes that many of the ideas put forward by the Independent Expert represent an aspirational framework that can better inform and guide our policies to protect older persons.

For example, the United States has emphasized developing practical measures to address the rights of older persons and to improve their quality of life.  President Obama signed into law the Elder Justice Act in 2010, dedicated to preventing, detecting, and responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  We have established the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, consisting of the heads of 12 federal departments and other government entities, to coordinate activities related to these issues.

We look forward to engaging with the Independent Expert as well as with stakeholders regarding these issues.


A particular area of concern for us is the abuse and exploitation of elder persons.  What does the Independent Expert believe should be member states’ priorities as they work to protect older persons from physical, economic and psychological abuse?


The United States welcomes this opportunity to engage with the new Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.  We thank Ms. Bhoola for the report and the list of her new priorities.

Modern slavery has many names: trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, debt bondage, forced labor, domestic servitude, sex trafficking and forced prostitution.  All these terms encompass the same crime, the dehumanizing practice of holding another in compelled service using any means necessary, whether physical or psychological.

The United States Government supports and shares the Special Rapporteur’s priorities for working to eliminate domestic servitude and abolishing modern slavery from global supply chains.

Special Rapporteur Bhoola notes in her report the need to ensure standardized disaggregated data collection to more effectively prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute alleged traffickers.  We would like to pursue this goal.


Can the Special Rapporteur describe in more detail how States can best disaggregate law enforcement data to improve efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, prevent the crime, and bring criminals to justice? Does she have any examples of best practices that states are already employing in this area?