Issue Brief


AARP and the United Nations

International Affairs Issue Brief

Publish Date: July  25,  2013


Older people across the world are living longer and more productive lives and their contributions are making them a recognized and significant resource to their societies and economies. AARP's international activity works to strengthen that trend by identifying and sharing the best ideas and practices on key policy issues that would help people live longer, healthier, more financially secure and productive lives. In pursuit of these goals, AARP has developed relationships with a number of international governing bodies such as the United Nations (UN) to help build a cohesive voice among nations in the dialogue on global aging. In fact, AARP has been involved with the UN for over 35 years, and has been represented at the UN in New York through dedicated staff and volunteers since 1985. AARP works in partnership with the UN Programme on Ageing, government representatives, and non-governmental organizations.

AARP's work at the United Nations

AARP has worked with the United Nations for over 35 years. AARP works in partnership with the UN Programme on Ageing, government representatives, and non-governmental organizations. In 1987, AARP obtained Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, permitting it to participate more actively in UN affairs related to aging, an activity that continues to this day.

AARP joined the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on Aging in New York in 1985 to promote consideration of aging issues in the UN. AARP currently serves as its chair. In 1996, AARP helped found the Geneva International Network on Aging (GINA), a group that represented aging interests with all the international organizations headquartered in Geneva.

AARP staff and volunteers have participated in major world conferences with relevance for aging sponsored by the UN including:

  • First World Assembly on Ageing, Vienna (1982);
  • World Conference on the Advancement of Women, Nairobi (1985);
  • World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen (1995);
  • World Conference on Population & Development, Cairo (1995);
  • World Conference on Women, Beijing (1995);
  • Conference on Human Settlements, Istanbul (1996);
  • Millennium Conference (2000); and
  • the Second World Assembly on Ageing, Madrid (2002).

At these conferences, formal statements have been submitted and delivered to plenary bodies and governments. In addition, AARP has published policy-relevant materials for use by delegates, other NGOs, and the general public to positively influence the rights of older persons, particularly older women, persons with disabilities, and older workers.

Since 1992, AARP has provided continued support and leadership in achieving global recognition for the annual UN-sponsored International Day of Older Persons.

For the International Year of Older Persons in 1999, AARP organized Coalition '99 to bring together NGOs around the world seeking to promote the well-being of older persons. It became the clearinghouse for events held around the world to celebrate the year.

In 2007, AARP started the AARP-UN Briefing Series on Global Aging held annually to focus on highlighting trends and new developments in income security, health, and an enabling environment for aging populations. This takes place each February in conjunction with the UN Social Development Commission.  The 2013 AARP-UN Briefing Series on Global Aging featured panel discussions on age-friendly communities and advocacy and representation bringing together representatives from AARP, the UN, International Federation on Ageing, New York City Council, China National Committee on Aging, HelpAge International, and University of Southampton’s Centre for Research on Ageing. 

AARP is currently involved in two major initiatives at the UN, the emerging Post-2015 Development Agenda and the creation of a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons