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International Plan of Action on Ageing: II. Principles

The formulation and implementation of policies on ageing are the sovereign right and responsibility of each State, to be carried out on the basis of its specific national needs and objectives. However, the promotion of the activities, safety and well-being of the elderly should be an essential part of an integrated and concerted development effort within the framework of the new international economic order in both the developed and the developing parts of the world. International and regional cooperation should, however, play an important role. The International Plan of Action on Ageing is based on the principles set out below:

  • The aim of development is to improve the well-being of the entire population on the basis of its full participation in the process of development and an equitable distribution of the benefits therefrom. The development process must enhance human dignity and ensure equity among age groups in the sharing of society's resources, rights and responsibilities. Individuals, regardless of age, sex or creed, should contribute according to their abilities and be served according to their needs. In this context, economic growth, productive employment, social justice and human solidarity are fundamental and indivisible elements of development, and so are the preservation and recognition of cultural identity;

  • Various problems of older people can find their real solution under conditions of peace, security, a halt to the arms race and a rechannelling of resources spent for military purposes to the needs of economic and social development;

  • The developmental and humanitarian problems of the ageing can best find their solution under conditions where tyranny and oppression, colonialism, racism, discrimination based on race, sex or religion, apartheid, genocide, foreign aggression and occupation and other forms of foreign domination do not prevail, and where there is respect for human rights;

  • In the context of its own traditions, structures and cultural values, each country should respond to demographic trends and the resulting changes. People of all ages should engage in creating a balance between traditional and innovative elements in the pursuit of harmonious development;

  • The spiritual, cultural and socio-economic contributions of the ageing are valuable to society and should be so recognized and promoted further. Expenditure on the ageing should be considered as a lasting investment;

  • The family, in its diverse forms and structures, is a fundamental unit of society linking the generations and should be maintained, strengthened and protected, in accordance with the traditions and customs of each country;

  • Governments and, in particular, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, individual volunteers and voluntary organizations, including associations of the elderly, can make a particularly significant contribution to the provision of support and care for elderly people in the family and community. Governments should sustain and encourage voluntary activity of this kind;

  • An important objective of socio-economic development is an age-integrated society, in which age discrimination and involuntary segregation are eliminated and in which solidarity and mutual support among generations are encouraged;

  • Ageing is a lifelong process and should be recognized as such. Preparation of the entire population for the later stages of life should be an integral part of social policies and encompass physical, psychological, cultural, religious, spiritual, economic, health and other factors;

  • The Plan of Action should be considered within the broader context of the world's social, economic, cultural and spiritual trends, in order to achieve a just and prosperous life for the ageing, materially as well as spiritually;

  • Ageing, in addition to being a symbol of experience and wisdom, can also bring human beings closer to personal fulfilment, according to their beliefs and aspirations;

  • The ageing should be active participants in the formulation and implementation of policies, including those especially affecting them;

  • Governments, non-governmental organizations and all concerned have a special responsibility to the most vulnerable among the elderly, particularly the poor, of whom many are women and from rural areas;

  • Further study on all aspects of ageing is necessary.

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles
  3. Recommendations for Action
  4. Recommendations for Implementation