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Social Participation of Older Persons Based on Human Rights: Conception Renewal and Action Plan
April 15,2023   By:CSHRS
Social Participation of Older Persons Based on Human Rights: Conception Renewal and Action Plan
 
LIU Yuan*
 
Abstract: Equal participation and the promotion of social integration are essential parts of human rights protection. The theory of the right to social participation of older persons from the perspective of age stratification hardly explains the real difficulties older persons face in participating in social life. Life course theory reveals that social participation is an intermediate link between individuals and the social environment, so it is a means for individuals to achieve specific objectives as they age. In this light, there are three main interpretations for expressions of social participation of older persons throughout history, namely participation in health-oriented toward treatment of physiological aging, participation in production oriented toward human resources development of older persons, and full participation based on human rights. In the context of mainstreaming human rights and active aging, full participation based on human rights should become the main concept of relevant academic exploration and policy practice. To this end, we should establish the principle of protecting the rights of the elderly to social participation and integration, examine the participation process from the perspective of dynamic development, and construct the participation protection mechanism in light of China’s conditions.
 
Keywords: active aging · laws for older persons · rights of older persons · social participation
 
The mode and degree of social participation reflect the role, status, and sharing of opportunities and resources of the individual in the social network, which is a key indicator of the realization of human rights. Participation is a crucial pillar of the policy framework of active aging, as well as a key part of protecting the rights of older persons. The existing theory holds that the special attributes of older persons determine the particularity of their social participation. But the truth is that social participation is part of the aging process and itself shapes older persons. Therefore, academic research and the rights expression of the social participation of older persons should be incorporated into their life courses, to explore, from the perspective of dynamic development, how individuals can realize the protection of human rights throughout the whole life cycle through participation and integration in society.
 
I. A New Perspective for Analyzing the Social Participation of Older Persons
 
Equal participation and the promotion of social integration are essential parts of human rights protection for older persons, and the important consensus reached by the international community on actively and effectively responding to the challenge of population aging. The core human rights documents have made it clear that everyone has the right to participate in political, economic, cultural, and social life. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (2002) aims “to ensure that persons everywhere can age with security and dignity and to continue to participate in their societies as citizens with full rights.” The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People clarifies that the elderly have the right to “participate in social development” and “share the fruits of development” and stipulates the national obligation to gradually improve the conditions for ensuring the life, health, safety, and participation of older persons in social development, and has a special chapter stipulating matters related to participation in the social development of older persons. The country is obliged to take measures to ensure that older persons enjoy and exercise their right to be involved in social life to the fullest extent and to help older persons be integrated into society.
 
In this light, Chinese scholars, based on normative analysis and combined with the research results in the field of the sociology of aging, have constructed the theory of the right to social participation of older persons. The right to social participation of older persons refers to the right of older persons who have the willingness and ability to have equal and unhindered access to participation, require related subjects to provide conditions for participation and end with emotional experience and material feedback brought by participation. Their right to social participation includes both the negative “right to participate free from discrimination” and the positive “right to ask for the support of participation”, covering a wide range of aspects relating to social life such as political participation, economic participation, cultural participation, social involvement, and organizational participation.1 The problem with the social participation of older persons is that due to the unique psychophysical characteristics of older persons, the group encounter difficulties participating in social life. Therefore, for the protection of their rights combined with general protection and special protection, the country is required to take special measures to protect their right to participate in social activities.
 
As a criterion for defining older persons, age is a good tool for macro-demographic statistics, but it has its limitations in explaining individual features, living environment, and behavioral decision-making at the micro level. As a typical example, older persons are often described as a group that has difficulties in walking and physio-mental decline, thus facing physical barriers to participation in community activities. Although an individual’s physical health is inevitably affected by the natural physiological process of aging, environment and life experiences are critical factors in determining functional capabilities.2
 
Not all older persons face a loss of physical function. On the contrary, improving living conditions, the building of a health support system, and cultivating good health habits to help individuals maintain health and physical function to the maximum until the end of life are the main goals of current policies related to healthy aging. Therefore, there may be great differences in social participation and related physical abilities among members of society at certain ages. Some older persons may become incapacitated or semi-incapacitated, and face difficulties in participating in the most basic daily activities such as conversation and travel, while some older persons remain fully functional and energetic, and are even in the prime of their career development thanks to a wealth of experience. Subject description based on age stratification is hard to truly and comprehensively reflect the complex circumstances and diverse vulnerabilities of older persons. Moreover, the conceptual construction of “older persons” also contains the metaphor of “youth centrism” which refers to defining older persons as a group with significant differences in physical capabilities, concepts, and social relations, or even especially vulnerable groups, with the ideal image of youth as the template and age characteristics as the standard. If the theoretical construction of the rights of older persons ignores the heterogeneous characteristics of age groups and generically believes that all members of society who reach a certain age have certain characteristics or disadvantages, it will not be able to truly express an appeal for individual rights and may result in the stereotyping of older persons.
 
The abilities, preferences and social resources that older persons have are not determined by their age, but by the aging process of an individual in a particular spatiotemporal environment. In other words, elderly people are not an age group with common characteristics, but the result of a dynamic aging process that develops successively. Aging is a process of mutual involvement between individuals and a specific social environment, and social participation is the intermediate link in the process, and a means for individuals to achieve the aging goal as expected.3 On the one hand, a particular social environment has a specific aging process. The physical environment determines the resources and services available to individuals as they grow older, while social perceptions of aging and old age influence their psychological, emotional, and behavioral choices, thus encouraging individuals to follow a given “life journey” toward aging. On the other hand, it is not an aging process “arranged” by society for an individual to passively accept, but the aging process that people can give full play to their subjective initiative, and then promote and shape themselves in a planned way. Various forms of social participation are important channels through which individuals interact with their social environment in the process of aging. The goal and way of social participation of older persons are restricted by environmental factors, thus shaping their “normal” lifestyle. Whether the social participation of older persons can be realized depends on the preferences, choices, and endowments of older persons, showing the differential characteristics of the subjective initiative.
 
Therefore, the theoretical exploration and institutional design of the right to social participation of older persons should be included in the dynamic perspective of aging that “individual and social environment are embedded with each other,” to investigate the objective, connotation, and extension of social participation of older persons under specific social conditions, and formulate the ideal plan of social participation based on respecting individual diversity and subjective initiative.
 
II. Three Expressions of Social Participation of Older Persons and Their Connotations
 
From the perspective of the life course of aging, the system and practice of social participation of older persons is an intermediate link between individuals and the social environment, as well as a means for individuals to achieve specific objectives of population aging. As people have a better understanding of the aging process, the expression of social participation of older persons varies accordingly, resulting in various human rights meanings. Historically, there are three main ways in which older persons express their social participation, namely participation in health oriented toward the treatment of physiological aging, participation in production oriented toward human resources development of older persons, and full participation based on human rights.
 
A. Health-oriented social participation
 
1. Healthy aging and social participation
 
The search for the aging of humans begins at the physiological level. Based on geriatric research, US academics John Rowe and Robert Kahn developed the concept of “Successful Aging.” “Successful Aging” means taking advantage of the positive influence of external psychological and social factors on the aging process, to minimize the decline of older persons’ functions, keep a good balance of body and mind, stimulate vitality, and gradually realize self-fulfillment in social participation.4 The concept has three intersecting aspects, namely “reducing the incidence of disease and disability,” “actively participating in life” and “maximizing cognitive and physical function.”5 The physiological function of an individual will gradually decline with age, which brings higher health risks and also affects the way and degree of social participation. On the one hand, changes in body function lead to changes in ability evaluation. As individuals age, they may be perceived as lacking the ability to participate in certain social activities, or as unsuitable for certain activities because of the risks involved. On the other hand, medical research has found that older persons who remain active in their social life and maintain and develop social ties can help reduce the risks and effects of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other diseases, and can more effectively cope with the challenges of aging over health.6 Research in social psychology shows that older persons who actively participate in community activities and family life tend to have a higher sense of happiness, satisfaction, and accomplishment, be more capable of maintaining a positive mental state and healthy lifestyle and boast a higher level of health.7
 
Therefore, successful aging refers to “success” in the level of health, which implies that individuals “successively” resolve the negative physiological effects of aging. In the process, “actively participating in life” is both the expression of “success” and an important means to maintain physical and mental health and bodily functions.
 
The World Health Organization also pays special attention to the health risks associated with aging, and thus has put forward the concept and action plan for healthy aging. Early reports by the WHO on “healthy aging” put special emphasis on the value of regular and moderate physical activities for maintaining physical function, lowering the risk of age-related diseases, and reducing the damage caused by disease. Social participation, mainly in the form of recreation, leisure, and socializing, is undoubtedly an important form of regular and moderate physical activity.8 The World Report on Ageing and Health released by the World Health Organization in 2015 further clarified the significance of social participation in achieving healthy aging.9 Social participation suitable for the physical and mental conditions of older persons is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps to improve an individual’s immunity and rehabilitation. Social participation is a training tool that helps individuals maintain their cognitive, communicative, and expressive abilities in the process of aging, so that they can express their physical conditions and medical demands more clearly and timely for medical staff to “customize” health plans for them, to timely and effectively cope with various health risks. Productive participation10 and social relation-building can improve the ability of older persons to obtain health resources, and enhance the “sense of value,” “sense of belonging” and “sense of attachment” of older persons. Generally speaking, moderate participation is an important part of an effective health support system.
 
2. Significance and limitations of health-oriented social participation
 
The concept of health participation interprets social participation as a “medical plan” to deal with the pathological effects of aging and maintain physical and mental health in old age. It reveals the relationship between social participation and physiological aging, provides guidance for policies and actions to maintain and promote the health of older persons, and is an important means to guarantee the right to the highest attainable standard of health for older persons. Specifically, the health support system for older persons should include the promotion of social participation to improve the health literacy of older persons with a lifestyle beneficial to body and mind and further increase the operational efficiency of the whole support system. Meanwhile, the safety and health of older persons are also an essential part of the social participation policy. The policy measures and social practices to promote the social participation of older persons should take full account of safety needs, and provide necessary personnel, facilities, and safety rules, to reduce the risk of health damage to individuals in the process of participation.
 
On the other hand, the concept of healthy aging and health-oriented social participation reflects a negative “medical view of aging,” which views aging pathologically and describes it as a negative life course toward vulnerability, dependence, and disability. To be sure, aging has its inevitable physical and psychological downsides. However, as mentioned above, trends in individual health and physical function in the process of aging depend more on environmental factors than on age itself. Old age should not be seen as an “anomaly” representing illness and disability. The “negative” core of the medical view of aging alienates the aging process and believes that human beings will be less capable, more vulnerable, and have to rely on others because of the aging process. As a result, the value and potential of the elderly are degraded, which often becomes the conceptual root of age discrimination and elder abuse.
 
Health-oriented social participation is bound to be relatively one-sided and limited. Maintaining health is an indispensable goal for the social participation of older persons and the protection of human rights, but factors such as personal preferences, development requirements, and even social responsibilities should also be taken into account. A narrow definition that focuses on the value of health naturally leads to a one-sided understanding of participation, excluding competitive activities, high-intensity sports, and certain hobbies that may pose health risks. In particular, if judgments about health benefits are based on stereotypes about older persons and old age, it may lead to the opposite of ends and means — the action initiatives and policy practices dedicated to improving the well-being of older persons may limit the opportunities for older persons to participate in society, promoting or solidifying discrimination against older persons and exacerbating social exclusion against older persons. For instance, even though the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing (hereinafter referred to as VIPAA) adopted in the First World Assembly on Ageing in 1982 reiterated that the fundamental rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be applied to older persons fully and to the letter, and clarified that “participation” should be a key means of ensuring that older persons can fulfill their needs for self-development. However, the expression of social participation of older persons still shows a certain stereotype of older persons and the life stage of old age: “Policies and action aimed at benefiting the aging must afford opportunities for older persons to satisfy the need for personal fulfillment, which can be defined in its broader sense as satisfaction realized through the achievement of personal goals and aspirations, and the realization of potentialities. It is important that policies and programs directed at aging promote opportunities for self-expression in a variety of roles challenging for themselves and contributory to family and community. The principal ways in which older people find personal satisfaction are through: continued participation in the family and kinship system, voluntary services to the community, continuing growth through formal and informal learning, self-expression in arts and crafts, participation in community organizations and organizations of older people, religious activities, recreation and travel, part-time work, and participation in the political process as informed citizens.”11
 
VIPAA lists the main ways in which “older persons” participate in society, including political expression, family life, community volunteerism, lifelong learning, part-time work, nurturing of hobbies, recreation, and participation in various social organizations, etc. Although the participation methods mentioned in VIPAA are rich in content covering all fields of social life such as politics, economy, society, and culture, it is framed as a limited scope with “leisure activities, family life, and volunteer service” as the main content. For example, VIPAA emphasizes exclusively participation in “part-time work” and “voluntary services to the community,” which is seen to reflect a contradictory view of older persons’ participation in competitive productive activities such as “paid labor.”
 
B. Benefit-oriented social participation
 
1. Productive aging and social participation
 
The process of aging not only poses health challenges but may also lead to social exclusion and discrimination against older persons. Physiological changes due to aging result in a gradual “devaluation” of the individual in the calculation of the manpower capital in the labor market. Older persons are considered uncompetitive workers and undesirable consumers. Welfare-oriented aging policies not only provide protection for older persons, but also reinforce the perception that they are a social burden of “unworthiness,” which cannot be sustained under the impact of population aging, and ultimately leads to the so-called “crisis narrative.” Older persons with low economic value and high welfare needs are stigmatized as heavy burdens on sustainable economic and social development.
 
In this context, Robert N. Butler, the inventor of the concept of age discrimination, proposed the idea of Productive Ageing in 1983, providing opportunities and facilities for older persons in the “paid or unremunerative activities of the production of goods and the provision of services.” Productive aging suggests that individuals still have potential and value as they age. As “precious undeveloped resources” and “social assets that are not fully utilized,” older persons can make “productive” contributions to society by giving full play to their potential under the advocacy and support of social policies. Productive aging advocates the provision of opportunities and facilities for older persons in remunerated or unpaid activities in the production of goods and the supply of services.12 Besides, productive aging encourages older persons to maintain or improve health by joining mutual assistance organizations, participating in voluntary services, etc., to reduce the occupation of medical resources and the burden of family care, thus producing productive value in an indirect sense.13 It can be seen that the concept of productive aging shows a clear orientation to economic benefits, i.e., increasing the “social output” and reducing the “social expenditure” of older persons to improve the overall “economic efficiency” of the group. In this case, the pressure of labor shortage and high welfare caused by population aging can be alleviated, and the perception of “worthlessness” for older people can be reversed.
 
2. Significance and limitations of productive participation
 
In the context of the rapid development of population aging worldwide, the concept of productive aging quickly gained wide support from the international community. The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the Political Declaration (hereinafter referred to as Madrid Plan of Action) adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002 incorporates the concept of “productive aging,” providing a more detailed action plan for older persons to actively participate in society and development. The textual expression of social participation of older persons changed as well. As described in the Political Declaration, “The expectations of older persons and the economic needs of society demand that older persons be able to participate in the economic, political, social and cultural life of their societies. Older persons should have the opportunity to work for as long as they wish and can, in satisfying and productive work, continue to have access to education and training programs. The empowerment of older persons and the promotion of their full participation are essential elements of active aging. For older persons, appropriate sustainable social support should be provided.”14
 
The Madrid Plan of Action places special emphasis on correcting the stereotypical prejudice about the “capacity of social contribution” of older persons, requires all countries to recognize the value and potential of older persons in all areas of life, particularly in the fields of “productive” and “competitive” employment, and calls for action to support older persons in developing their abilities and contributing to social development. The social participation of older persons is no longer defined by recreational and public welfare activities but has a connotation similar to that of young people. In other words, older persons can, according to their abilities and wishes, choose to participate in capacity training and social competition, and such choices should be protected and supported by the country and society.
 
In 1991, the United Nations Principles for Older Persons was adopted by General Assembly resolution 46/91. It clarifies the five basic principles of member states in promoting the protection of the rights of older persons and coping with the aging of the population: “Independence,” “participation,” “care,” “self-enrichment,” and “dignity”. In terms of the content, each principle is closely related to the social participation of older persons,and mentions the goal of “integrating older persons into society always.” The content of participation in the United Nations Principles for Older Persons covers the possible forms of social participation of “general” rights subjects, including “job opportunities or other income-generating opportunities,” “appropriate education and training programs,” “participation in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being,” “inheritance of knowledge and skills to the younger generations,” “service as a volunteer in a position commensurate with interests and abilities,” “organization of sports or association for older persons” and “access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of the community.”15 Moreover, relevant expressions clearly show the affirmation and emphasis on the “productive” value of older persons.
 
Productive aging and the concept of social participation under its guidance have significance in human rights in various aspects. First of all, productive aging affirms the active subject status of older persons and helps to reverse the stereotype that older persons are a burden to society, thus safeguarding the dignity of older persons and promoting age equality and non-discrimination. Second, the related expressions broaden the scope of social participation of older persons. Older persons shall not only have the right to opportunities and conditions of enjoying “leisure and health,” but also have equal opportunities to participate in competitive and developmental activities such as employment and education, and shall have the right to ask for convenience from society. In this sense, the theory of the right to social participation of older persons has already been preliminarily constructed.
 
However, this concept of participation based on the consideration of “social benefits” also contains the risk of the “human capital” narrative, which has triggered many criticisms and doubts, for the analysis of “benefits” should consider the calculation of costs and benefits. Since promoting the participation of older persons in society is described as an “investment,” consideration must be given to whether the “investment” can achieve the expected “return,” or whether the “investor” believes that the expected “return” will be achieved. This one-sided emphasis on individual abilities and contributions may lead to differentiation and new discrimination within the group. That is, from discriminating against all older persons to discriminating against older persons at an advanced age and older persons with disabilities, and other older persons with extreme poverty. Alison Kesby points out that the emphasis of successful aging and productive aging on participation and individual contribution focuses on the more active and independent “third age”16 while ignoring the situation and needs of special groups such as those at an advanced age and the elderly disabled. In this context, older persons who lack the resources and channels to realize the “productive participation” of the current society may face double social prejudice and discriminatory treatment. This phenomenon inevitably results in a structural hierarchy that artificially creates a division between “successful older persons” and “unsuccessful older persons.”17 In addition, such consideration of “benefit” is not consistent with the value orientation of human rights. The protection of human rights is not because it is profitable, but for the reason why people are people. The concept of participation based on economic benefits and social policies under its guidance can promote the full participation of some older persons based on equality and alleviate the pressure brought by the aging of the population, but ignore those older persons who are in more difficult situations. The result is the separation of means and ends, behavior and results.
 
C. Human rights-based social participation
 
1. Participation in active aging is participation based on human rights.
 
Since the 21st century, the human rights discourse has become increasingly mainstream. Active aging, as a widely recognized policy framework for coping with the aging of the population, also explicitly premises respect for the human rights of older persons. As the World Health Organization points out, “Active aging is based on the recognition of the human rights of older people and the United Nations Principles of independence, participation, dignity, care, and self-fulfillment. It shifts strategic planning away from a ‘needs-based’ approach (which assumes that older people are passive targets) to a ‘rights-based’ approach that recognizes the rights of people to equality of opportunity and treatment in all aspects of life as they grow older. It supports their responsibility to exercise their participation in the political process and other aspects of community life.”18
 
The expression of participation in the active aging policy framework has presented the basic logic of the human rights narrative. First, active aging achieves the paradigm shift of older persons from passive “welfare recipients” to active “rights holders.” This shift is not only reflected in the “rights-based” declaration of the text and the recognition that older persons enjoy a wide range of rights, but also in active aging itself, which defines older persons as the subject of rights from the perspective of dynamic development of the life course.19 If only to declare that “older persons” enjoy various rights, but the concept of “older persons” is artificially defined or lacks practical meaning, the declaration of such rights will only be empty talk. From the perspective of the life course, people who are the subjects of rights do not lose their individuality just because they grow older, and the human rights they enjoy do not increase or decrease with age. As far as the right to participate is concerned, participation in political, economic, social, and cultural life itself is a fundamental human right explicitly defined by the core human rights conventions. The meaning of social participation of older persons lies in the fact that the right of everyone to social participation and the safeguards thereof shall not be unreasonably and unduly affected by increasing age. Older persons, regardless of their ability, potential, and state of health, have the right to participate fully and on an independent and equal basis in all aspects and levels of social life.
 
Meanwhile, the elaboration of active aging on health, participation, security, and other aspects gets rid of the narrative logic of one-sided emphasis on public health, social security burden, and social contradictions, and turns to the key issues in the aging process described in terms of needs and rights. For example, the “participation” in the conceptual system is not isolated or one-dimensional but closely connected with the other two pillars of “health” and “security,” which successively constitute the aging process. “Health” is the premise of “participation.” Only by “maintaining bodily function as much as possible” can we truly achieve comprehensive participation, and the participation process should also meet the requirements of maintaining health. The goal of the “security” dimension constitutes the “social safety net” for older persons, committed to providing measures to protect the basic rights and personal dignity of older persons whose internal capacity is severely diminished and thus it is difficult to participate effectively. “Participation” constitutes the intermediate link between individuals and their social environment. It is an important means for individuals to realize their development as they age, and also the key to active aging. Therefore, “participation” in active aging means not only offering equal opportunities to participate but also pursuing substantive equality of ability, i.e., “to enable older persons to fully participate by providing education, training programs and policies that support the lifelong learning of older persons.”
 
2. Significance of human rights-based participation
 
While absorbing the methods and ideas of human rights, active aging influences the development of international activities advocating the rights of older persons. Although currently at the level of normative texts, UN human rights mechanisms do not provide systematic protection for older persons,20 the issue of age discrimination has attracted the attention of various human rights treaty organizations, and has generated criticism and reflection on the social practice of “age stratification.”
 
The legitimacy of age as a criterion for social stratification has begun to be questioned in general comments issued by treaty bodies. The General Comment No.25 of the UN Human Rights Committee makes clear that any age conditions for the right to participate in national affairs should be “based on objective and reasonable criteria.”21 General Comment No. 6: The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Older Persons adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1995, while reaffirming the right to work that “everyone should have the opportunity to earn a living from work of his or her free choice and acceptance,” recognizes the legitimacy of “age stratification” in the field of employment. For example, when referring to the national 
obligation to guarantee that all people are free from discrimination in employment and enjoy proper working conditions, the main requirement of “not reaching the retirement age” is emphasized. In General Comment No. 18 adopted in 2005, retirement age no longer justifies differential treatment or is not a stand-alone exemption for differential treatment. The general comment makes clear that discriminatory treatment based on age in employment and working conditions equally constitutes a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), thereby reversely ensuring that the right to work of every individual must not be diminished on account of his or her age. General Comment No. 20 adopted by the CESCR in 2009 specifically emphasizes that “age is also a prohibited ground for discrimination.”22
 
Legislation on the human rights of older persons in the United States and the European Union not only recognizes the right to participate in all aspects but also elevates equal participation and social integration as the principle and goal of protecting the rights of older persons.23
 
Article 8 of the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons explicitly stipulates, “Older persons have the right to active, productive, full, and effective participation in the family, community, and society with a view to their integration. States Parties shall adopt measures to enable older persons to participate actively and productively in their community and to develop their capacities and potentialities.” It means that most clauses of rights in the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons are oriented toward promoting the social participation of older persons and achieving social integration. For instance, Article 7 clarifies that older persons “have the opportunity, on an equal basis with others, to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live, and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.” Article 12 clarifies that the wishes of older persons to live at home and the needs of family carers should be fully taken into account when safeguarding the right of older persons to long-term care services. The provisions on housing conditions and long-term care serve as an important part of the right to an adequate standard of living for older persons and lay the foundation for the participation and integration of older persons in community life. The European region does not have human rights document specifically for older persons, but Article 25 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights adopted in 2000 stipulates, “The Union recognizes and respects the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life.” The expression of this article is to a large extent a successor to the revised Article 23 of the European Social Charter, as well as a concern for social participation based on independence and dignity.24 Correspondingly, legislative and judicial actions at the EU level concerning the rights of older persons, with particular attention to legal regulation of age discrimination in the field of employment and the promotion of the provision of long-term care services at home or in the community, ultimately promoting employment and social integration in the field of daily life.
 
The social participation of older persons from the perspective of rights makes a breakthrough in the aforementioned participation. On the one hand, the human rightsbased approach requires older persons to be the subject of their rights. The subject status of the rights of older persons is not only reflected in recognizing that older persons have the flexibility to participate in and promote social development and to assert, safeguard and realize their rights but more importantly, it also respects individual diversity and autonomy. This requires that the abilities, needs, and preferences of each individual during the aging process should not be biasedly defined by the outside world and that their personality not be suppressed by social classification based on age. Everyone can fully express their real needs and, if reasonable and necessary, requires the country and society to provide equal, adequate, and effective rights protection. On the other hand, social participation and social integration themselves are regarded as the principle and goal of protecting the rights of older persons, that is, older persons have to win over the protection of their rights through participation. We should pay attention not only to equal participation in education and employment but also to other rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to the highest attainable standard of health through social participation and social integration. For example, requiring older persons to live in a nursing home against their own will, even if prompted by safety and health concerns, constitutes a violation of the principle of participation.
 
III. The Essence of Social Participation of Older Persons Based on Human Rights
 
In the 2016 comprehensive report, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, a UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, proposed that the policy and discussion concerning older persons should be shifted from the “economic and development perspective” to the “human rights-based approach,” and that “older persons should be regarded as legal objects rather than simple beneficiaries, and that older persons should enjoy specific rights and the country must guarantee the rights of older persons.”25 Although the concept of social participation of older persons oriented toward health or economic benefits has some significance, it is no longer consistent with the trend of international discussion and practice on aging issues. For the rights of older persons, social participation is not only the confirmation of the existing forms of participation but also the principle and goal of all rights protection. The right protection measures to promote social participation should be based on respecting the diversity and initiative of the subject and avoiding the partial definition of paternalism. The form of social participation of the elderly and the promotion plan should be in accordance with the economic, social, and cultural background of the space-time environment.
 
A. Establish the principle of guaranteeing the right to participation and integration
 
In terms of life course, the reason why older persons become a group worthy of special attention from the perspective of human rights is that the human rights risks implied by the life course of individual aging. Aging is an inevitable stage in the life course of every person. It is a concrete manifestation of the interaction between an individual and society over time. Under existing social conditions, human rights risks for older persons are rooted in stereotypes of old age. Due to the incorrect understanding of the natural changes occurring in the aging process, individuals are given a “detached” social role by the mainstream society and become increasingly “marginalized.” It is difficult to express their real needs or they fail to receive a proper response even if they express it, so they are prone to various rights dilemmas. For example, older persons are often defined as lacking the ability or requiring special labor arrangements because they need “rest,” which can easily be converted into discriminatory treatment, thus depriving older persons of opportunities and conditions to earn a living, maintain social ties and realize life value through work, and ending with the difficult situation of poverty.
 
Older persons’ social participation and social integration are both sides of each other and counter to social exclusion. The crux of the protection of the rights of older persons is to ensure that their individual “voice” is not ignored due to age, while the active participation in economic, political, cultural, and other fields of social life can be said to be the inevitable way to cope with the negative effects of the aging process and maintain and promote social integration. Participation and integration in society are not only the specific rights of the elderly in education, employment, and other aspects but also the principle and goal of protecting the rights of older persons. As the independent expert pointed out in the special report, the social exclusion of older persons not only manifests as the loss of opportunities for older persons to participate in social relations and activities in various fields but also leads to the deprivation of resources, rights, goods, and services by restricting the opportunities for older persons to make reasonable choices. The result is a systematic denial of human rights.26 Social participation is the main means to combat the systematic threat of human rights -social exclusion. The whole process of protecting the human rights of older persons must be based on active participation that respects the will.
 
As the policy framework of active aging reveals, active and effective social participation requires the support of multifaceted and multilayered human rights measures, which include affordable health support systems, accessible housing, necessary decision-making, and behavioral support, and intergenerational programs that are integration-oriented. Human rights measures should also consider whether they meet the criteria of “contributing to participation and social integration.” For example, access to convenient, accessible, affordable, and quality long-term care is an important component of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health of older persons. As the practices of protecting the rights of older persons in Europe and the United States are concerned, the provision of long-term care services must fully respect the wishes of older persons and provide family- and community-based service options to the extent possible, thus laying the foundation for older persons to participate and integrate into the life of the community. Education and lifelong learning are not only basic human rights in themselves but also prerequisites for active and effective social participation. Education and training are essential for continued participation in the labor market, as well as for voluntary and mutual services. In addition, whether older persons can actively and effectively participate in social life is also determined by physical space conditions. As the “Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide” states, an age-friendly city encourages active aging “by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security to enhance the quality of life as people age.”27 An age-friendly living environment not only concerns whether older persons can enjoy safe and appropriate living conditions but also determines to some extent whether they can truly participate in social life. It can be seen that whether older persons can fully participate on an equal and independent basis depends on whether the rights of all parties can be guaranteed.
 
It can be said that advancing and promoting social participation based on equality and autonomy is the cornerstone of implementing laws and policies for older persons based on human rights. It should take “participation” as the guiding principle for the protection of the rights of older persons and strive to promote the positive interaction between older persons and their family/community/social environment to the maximum extent by removing the barriers of income, health, physical environment, education, and training, to promote the integration of older persons into society. This means that the social participation of older persons from the perspective of human rights is not limited by a specific way of participation as commonly understood, but an open 
concept including possibilities in all aspects, which may have new connotations with the development of the times and the progress of human rights cause. Meanwhile, the willingness and choice of older persons to participate in social life should be respected. They should be able to choose the way and means of participating in society as they wish, without being restricted by the “ideal lifestyle for the elderly” imposed by society.
 
B. Examine the participation process from the perspective of dynamic development 
 
To be exact, the protection of the rights of any specific group must fully respect the diversity and initiative of the subject. In this respect, the particularity of the rights of older persons is mainly reflected in the diversity of older persons and the results of the dynamic aging process, the process itself being shaped by the dynamic role of older persons and social environmental factors. Therefore, the study on the rights of social participation of older persons should also focus on the characteristics of the aging process itself, which mainly includes two aspects: continuous development and horizontal combination.
 
1. Characteristics of continuous development of the aging process
 
The aging process itself is profoundly influenced by earlier life stages, and also affects various aspects of endowment and life experience in later life stages. If individuals face social isolation in education and employment when they are young and middle-aged, they tend to face more severe isolation and exclusion in old age due to the cumulative effect. A typical example is that studies on the protection of the rights of older persons with disabilities often divide the subject into two categories: “the disabled growing old” and “older persons suffering disabilities.”28 The logic of this division lies in the fact that the disabled under the current social conditions may encounter discrimination and exclusion when they are young and middle-aged, and thus lack the social capital to support them in their old age. Therefore, the key point of protecting their rights is to build a support network for them. The socially integrated individuals may fall into being disabled or semi-disabled due to physiological aging, but since they often already have relatively well-connected social support, the key to the protection of their rights is to ensure that the support network continues to operate in a manner consistent with the individual’s needs and human rights requirements. Gender is also an important factor in cumulative differentiation. Because of the gender division of labor, women may lose the opportunity to receive education and participate in employment when they are younger, and thus be “trapped” in family chores in their old age, making it more difficult for them to get opportunities to participate in social activities. Under the special background of the times, parents of an only child, elderly migrant population, AIDS patients, and other groups may also face more severe threats of social exclusion due to aging. In particular, the parents of the loss of an only child are often forced to live alone in their old age, unable to receive support and care from family members, and face the systematic disadvantage of rights.
 
Therefore, it is necessary to expand the research objects and analyze the comprehensive impact of the situation of the young and middle-aged on the participation mode and conditions of those in old age, with a focus on the lifelong impact of the unequal treatment suffered by specific groups such as women and the disabled. We should concentrate on coordinated solutions to key issues facing young and middle-aged people in terms of childbirth, education, and labor, with planning and early intervention to improve the effectiveness of rights protection throughout the life cycle. In addition, the strategy for protecting the rights of older persons should focus on guiding everyone to plan and prepare for old age through a healthy lifestyle, rational financial planning, and continuous learning in their younger years so they can accumulate positive factors conducive to social participation and social integration when they are older and strengthen their “resilience” to cope with the aging process. In the meantime, we should pay attention to and meet the needs of individuals’ participation in different life stages, and build an “all-age friendly” physical space, service system, and cultural environment. In particular, the lifestyle and social participation models of individuals just entering old age should be supported through preventive health care services and legal measures free from age discrimination. As people age, related initiatives have shifted to functional maintenance and alternative participation schemes, and ended with such methods as palliative care to help members of the human family maintain their final dignity.
 
2. Characteristics of the horizontal combination of the aging process
 
Aging represents the process of human individuals in a specific spatiotemporal environment, which is influenced by both the horizontal impact of environmental factors and the cumulative effect of temporal factors (age factors). As the example of the elderly with disabilities shows, life course varies from person to person, and there are also distinct differences in the choices they make, the actions they can take, and the obstacles they may encounter during the aging process. This difference may be reflected in the exclusion and discrimination caused by the inequality of the existing social power structure, as well as in the “co-contemporaneous group effect” caused by different historical backgrounds of life. The co-contemporaneous group is a research term used in the sociology of aging, referring to people of the same or similar age of birth. The members may have similar life experiences and thus be similar to each other in endowments and preferences while being significantly different from other cohorts. The phenomena of “post-XX” and “generation gap”, which are hotly discussed by the public, are the result of the typical co-contemporaneous group effect. For members of the same generation, such an effect is an internalized life experience, but not a general rule determined by aging. For example, the “digital divide” is a problem faced by older persons today who lack digital skills or are unwilling to engage in digital life. This phenomenon occurs not due to the infirmity and mental rigidity associated with aging itself,29 but because older persons lack the opportunity to contact relevant products and learn relevant skills in early life, and need to bear the cost of learning alone.30 Thus, the logic of guaranteeing the “right to digital participation” for older persons does not lie in “assisting the weak,” but in requiring real beneficiaries of such digital participation to share the cost of learning and integrating into digital life fairly. For example, if digital skills acquired by older persons can help improve the effectiveness of public service systems and social governance, the country has the responsibility to share some of the learning costs through special training or financial support. In addition, members of different generations face the challenges of their times, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” social participation scheme. For example, the “digital divide” that older persons are facing now has a very different representation, cause, and impact from those in the “digital divide” faced by the older persons of the Millennium. Predictably, current “natives” of digital life will become the new “digital immigrants” in the future. Therefore, the system design of social participation of older persons should be based on intergenerational integration. It should not only build a fair and feasible scheme for the intergenerational division of labor in the current social environment. More importantly, we need to establish an intergenerational cooperation mechanism for communication and consultation on an equal footing among members of society from different generations.
 
It is emphasized that the significance of including this perspective in the analysis of the social participation of the elderly lies in the correct understanding of the influence of the aging process. The influence of the aging process should be perceived correctly, and the age factors and non-age factors should be distinguished to avoid the vague definition of the aging process and the characteristics of old age being short of evidence. The cumulative effect of age factors and the direct influence of non-age factors have different mechanisms of action. Only by careful discrimination can we identify the factors leading to the right dilemma, and on this basis, formulate efficient and feasible programs of social participation and social integration for older persons.
 
C. Establish rights protection mechanisms based on specific time and space
 
The dialectical relationship between the universality and particularity of human rights has always been a key problem in the study of human rights theory. As far as the rights of older persons are concerned, the pattern of aging and its effects are closely linked to specific social circumstances. Under different cultural backgrounds, the social significance brought by aging, the expectation of old-age life, and the resources and mechanisms available for supporting the elderly are different. For the realization of protecting the rights of older persons, we should not only confirm, utilize and maintain the stable operation of the existing aging mechanism but also improve and develop it in combination with human rights standards and human rights values to realize the expected aging. For now, the following issues should be emphasized:
 
1. Participation in the protection of freedom: strengthening anti-age discrimination legislation based on national conditions
 
Ageism and age-based discrimination are the main obstacles for older persons to achieve social participation and social integration and are also the focus of legal scholars. Independent expert Claudia Mahler points out that the deep-rooted negative perceptions continue to underpin policies and practices, creating clear obstacles to the equal enjoyment of human rights by older persons. Ageism has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.31 At present, there are different views and norms on age discrimination and its manifestations in the world, but no unified consensus has been reached. The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People prohibits discrimination, insult, maltreatment, or abandonment of elderly persons. However, the Law does not further stipulate how to prohibit discrimination against older persons by legal means, and the anti-discrimination legislation in other areas does not pay attention to the issue of “age.”32 Many scholars have proposed that special legislation against discrimination against the elderly should be strengthened to provide an institutional basis for guaranteeing the equal rights of older persons.33 Our country should absorb and transform the existing experience from other countries, and put forward legislation on age discrimination, and improve laws and systems on age discrimination in the light of the practical needs of social development. From the conclusion of the text, the anti-age discrimination law should focus on the following two aspects:
 
First of all, it is necessary to examine and reflect on all existing institutions related to age stratification, focusing on the linkages between institutions, and building a holistic legal framework against age discrimination. For example, age discrimination in the field of employment is often closely related to the old-age social security system. In European and North American countries, the strictness of regulation on suspected age discrimination in employment is positively correlated with the marketization level of social security for the aged. In the United States, where corporate annuities and private pensions are dominant, age-based differential treatment is under strict scrutiny. However, in European countries with a high proportion of social welfare, the governments give different exemptions to different degrees in the field of employment, such as statutory retirement age and fixed-term contracts, for the policy considerations of balancing intergenerational employment, easing financial pressure, and providing labor training.34 Although individual choice and freedom are limited, enterprises and governments can provide economic compensation or other social participation programs to make up for the loss, thus realizing the protection of rights in the whole life cycle. Our anti-age discrimination legislation must be promoted in combination with the reform process of the old-age social security system. No matter whether reform abolishes compulsory retirement or delays retirement, it must be based on the straightening out of various legal relations in the field of social security for older persons, and form a system that conforms to human rights standards.
 
Second, special attention should be paid to the harmonization of anti-age discrimination legislation with other anti-discrimination legislation. The universality of aging makes age discrimination more likely to appear in the form of multiple discrimination, which brings compound effects on the rights and interests of the subject. In the face of such characteristics, while trying to sort out and conclude the mechanism of interaction between different discriminatory factors, we should also fully consider the possibility of multiple discrimination in the system design of discrimination identification and relief scheme. It is necessary to absorb the existing provisions in the fields of persons with disabilities and women, determine the components, forms of expression, and scope of application of age discrimination, form a link with the anti-discrimination legislation of persons with disabilities and women, and build an inclusive protection mechanism.
 
2. Carry forward the Chinese tradition of intergenerational cooperation
 
Social participation is not only the interaction between individuals and the environment but also the realization of the social association between individuals. For older persons, it is necessary to maintain and develop social relationships among “peers,” but social integration can only be facilitated by further interaction between members of te different generations. At the social level, it is possible to strengthen life education for the public, support the development of intergenerational integration projects, intensify exchanges and mutual trust among social members of different generations, eliminate stereotypes about the life stage of the elderly, and create an intergenerational cultural atmosphere of equality and respect. The United States, Germany, and other countries began to try to promote various intergenerational interaction programs in the 1960s. The initiatives of intergenerational integration such as A Society for All Ages, Age-friendly Cities, and Community for All Ages have mushroomed.35
 
The practice of education for the aged and lifelong education through various means, such as the University of the Third Age (U3A) and School-level Partnerships for the Aged, are important manifestations of social participation through education. Promoting the participation of older persons in intergenerational activities is listed as an important part of social participation in the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons, and the Treaty on European Union clearly states the goal and strategy of “promoting intergenerational solidarity” as relevant actions.36 As far as China is concerned, the family can be regarded as the most noteworthy local resource and existing mechanism for supporting the elderly. The theoretical research on the “social participation” of the elderly should broaden the vision, pay full attention to the significance of the elderly participating in family life, and respond to the trend of “re-familiarization” of intergenerational property relations in society.37 Legal means should be used to set up a code of conduct in line with the expectations of various parties, build the relief mechanism in line with the internal relationships of a family, and strengthen the interactive bond between the older persons and their family members. Moreover, laws should be made to strengthen the protection of the rights of adults, who are the backbone of the intergenerational relationship in the family. Through the system design of family leave and respite service, it should provide support for adults to fulfill their intergenerational responsibilities, give full play to the “regurgitation-feeding” function of intergenerational interaction in the family, and strengthen the ability of the elderly to participate in social life.
 
In addition, the significance of the law in building a fair intergenerational cooperation order lies in creating an equal and open environment for consultation. The principal position of older persons should be respected, and the ability of older persons to participate in public life and decision-making processes, as well as to communicate and consult with members of other generations of society should be strengthened through the development of lifelong education systems and the creation of supportive decision-making programs. We should strengthen life education for the public, support the development of intergenerational integration projects, strengthen exchanges and mutual trust among members of society from different generations, eliminate stereotypes about the life stage of the elderly, and create an intergenerational cultural atmosphere of equality and respect. More important, fair institutional arrangements are often based on a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the capabilities, resources, and needs of the participants. This means that the investigation and research on gerontology, geriatrics, and the sociology of aging should be deepened so that decision-making participants can have a more realistic understanding and grasp of the real needs of older persons, and make tailored rights protection plans according to different situations.
 
Conclusion
 
As of now, a human rights-based approach has been increasingly accepted in international discussions on the issues of older persons and population aging, and the process of formulating a special international human rights convention on the rights of older persons is progressing steadily within the framework of the United Nations. The human rights-based approach should incorporate the positive aging view and life course theory, and deepen the understanding and perception of the “right to social participation” of older persons. The full participation and integration of older persons in social life on an equal and independent basis is not only a requirement of specific basic human rights but also a basic principle and goal for the protection of all human rights. Older persons are active subjects in dynamic development. Policies and practices concerning the social participation of the elderly should respect the diversity, autonomy, and dynamic characteristics of the subjects, and pay special attention to the unique circumstances under different life courses. In the end, the plan to promote the social participation of older persons and social integration must be based on the specific national conditions of contemporary China, combined with China’s actual conditions to promote the anti-age discrimination legislation. Meanwhile, we should consolidate and carry forward the fine tradition of intergenerational cooperation and vigorously support social participation in the family and community domains.
 
(Translated by XU Chao)
 
* LIU Yuan ( 刘远 ), Doctor of Laws, Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Sociology, Wuhan University, and Researcher at the Institute of Human Rights, Wuhan University.
 
1. Xiao Jinming, Research on the Policies and Laws on Social Participation of Older Persons (Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2015); Xiao Jinming, Research on Legal Countermeasures and Legal System of Active Aging (Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2015); Wang Diche, “Legal Protection of Social Participation of Older Persons from the Perspective of Rights,” Scientific Research on Aging 6 (2020); Yuan Wenquan and Wang Zhixin, “The Construction of Legal Rights and Institutional Responses to the Social Participation of Older Persons: On the Analysis of the Framework of Active Aging,” Journal of Social Sciences of Jilin University 4 (2021).
 
2. World Health Organization, World Report on Ageing and Health, World Health Organization, accessed July 20, 2022, https://apps. who. int/iris/han dle/10665/186463 (2015).
 
3. For example, American sociologist Glen Elder and others developed the theoretical paradigm of life course, with “the interaction process of individual life course and social change” as the object of investigation. It focuses on analyzing the interaction between human individuals and social structure as time passes. In this way, it examines how major changes in social culture, social structure, ans social system affect individual destiny. For the introduction of life course theory, please refer to Jiang Lihua and Yuan Xiaowei, “The Knowledge Tradition and Discourse System of Life Course Theory,” Scientific Socialism 3 (2014).
 
4. John W. Rowe and Robert L. Kahn, “Human Aging: Usual and Successful,” Science 237 (1987): 143-149. Cited by Zhang Xusheng and Lin Ka, “The Concept of Successful Aging and its Policy Implications,” Social Science Front 2 (2015).
 
5. John W. Rowe and Robert L. Kahn, “Successful Aging,” The Gerontologist 37 (1997): 433-440.
 
6. James S. House, Karl R. Landis and Debra Umberson, “Social Relationships and Health,” Science 241 (1988): 540-545.
 
7. Vem L. Bengtson and Richard A. Settersten, Handbook of Theories of Aging (New York: Springer Publishing, 2016).
 
8. Riitta-Liisa Heikkinen and WHO Aging and Health Programme, Growing Older-Staying Well: Aging and Physi cal Activity in Everyday Life, World Health Organization, https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/65230, 1998.
 
9. The 69th World Health Assembly: Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health 2016-2020: Towards a World Where Everyone Can Live a Longevous and Healthy Life, World Health Organization , accessed July 20, 2022, https://apps. who. int/iris/handle/10665/254159, 2016.
 
10. Productive participation here refers to forms of participation that bring about economic income, such as fulltime work or part-time work.
 
11. The Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging, official website of the United Nations, accessed February 2, 2022, https://www.un.org/chinese/esa/aging/vien- na3_l.htm.
 
12. Zhao Huaijuan, “Practice and Enlightenment of Productive Aging,” Journal of Anhui Normal University (Humanities and Social Sciences Edition) 3 (2010).
 
13. Zhao Huaijuan and Zhu Yansong, “A New Perspective of Studying on Aging and Its Policy Implications,”Chinese Journal of Gerontology 9 (2012). World Health Organization’s World Report on Ageing and Health, released in 2015, expressed a similar view of improving health literacy through participation in social life, thereby transforming participation from “consumption” to “investment.” Thus we can see the characteristics of the view of aging with the time developing. World Health Organization, World Report on Ageing and Health. World Health Organization, accessed July 20, 2022, https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/186463, 2015.
 
14. The Political Declaration, official website of the United Nations, accessed February 2, 2022, https://www.un.org/chinese/esa/aging/declaration, htm.
 
15. United Nations Principles for Older Persons, official website of the United Nations, accessed February 2, 2022, https://www.un.org/chinese/esa/aging/principle,htm.
 
16. It usually refers to older persons between 65 and 85 years old.
 
17. Alison Kesby, “Narratives of Aging and the Human Rights of Older Persons,” Human Rights Review 18 (2017): 381.
 
18. WHO, Active Aging: A Policy Framework, World Health Organization, https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/67215, 2002, page 11
 
19. Ibid., 14.
 
20. It is worth noting that Article 8 of the Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities on equality and non-discrimination, makes special reference to age from the perspective of cross-discrimination, and the states parties are explicitly required to “eliminate stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices against persons with disabilities in all aspects of life, including those based on sex and age.” The monitoring, reporting and other enforcement mechanisms related to the Convention On The Rights Of (Continued on Next Page)(Continued)Persons With Disabilities also provide some protection for the rights of older persons. However, as scholars in the field of disability law have pointed out, older persons are not the same as disabled persons. See Arlene S. Kanter, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Implications for the Rights of Elderly People Under International Law,” Georgia State University Law Review 25 (2009): 527-573. In addition, Article 11 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Article 7 of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families refers to the protection of cross-discrimination.
 
21. General Comment No. 25 The Right to Participate in Public Life and Vote adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee, in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, HRI/GEN/1/Rev. 9 (Vol. 1), 27 May 2008. The setting of upper or lower age limits for holding public office, exercising the right to vote and standing for election is a common practice in the relevant legal systems of many countries. According to this general comment, such age conditions must be justified on sufficient grounds and the standard itself does not exceed a certain limit, otherwise it constitutes deprivation of rights.
 
22. General Comment No. 6 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Older Persons, General Comment No. 18 Rights to Work and General Comment No. 20 Non-discrimination in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
 
23. See Article 1 and 3 of the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons, AG/ doc.5493/15 corr. 1.
 
24. Gerard Quinn and Israel Doron, “Against Ageism and Towards Active Social Citizenship for older persons: The Current Use and Future Potential of the European Social Charter,” Council of Europe, 2021: 8.
 
25. United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons, UN. DOC.A/HRC/33/44.
 
26. United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons, UN. DOC.A/HRC/39/50.
 
27. World Health Organization: Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide, World Health Organization, 2007, page 1.
 
28. Mei Yunbin, Research on the Elderly Disabled and Their Social Support — A Case Study of Beijing (Wuhan: Wuhan University of Technology Press, 2010), 5-6.
 
29. In other words, aging is not the main cause of the “digital divide.”
 
30. Computer skills learning is currently included in compulsory education in China. While the enterprises that need to be in contact with relevant business provide skills training for their employees and share some costs, the elderly members of society have not enjoyed such “treatment” in education and vocational experience. The full cost of learning digital skills must be borne by themselves or their family members, even if social circumstances force them to do so.
 
31. UN Human Rights Council, Report of Independent Expert Claudia Mahler, Issue on Enjoying all Human Rights by Older Persons, UN.DOC.A/HRC/ 48/53.
 
32. Liu Xiaonan, Lecture Notes on Anti-Discrimination Law: Texts and Cases (Beijing: Law Press · China, 2016), 241.
 
33. Xiao Jinming, Research on the Legal Strategy and Legal System of Active Aging (Jinan: Shandong University Press, 2015), 99.
 
34. Julie C. Suk., “From Anti-discrimination to Equality: Stereotypes and the Life Cycle in the United States and Europe,” 60 The American Journal of Comparative Law 60 (2012): 75-98.
 
35. On the development of intergenerational programs in the United States, see Li Qiao adn Jia Chunshuai, “The Western Context and the Chinese Landscape of Intergenerational Programs: A Debate on Name and Reality and a Review of Practice,” Ningxia Social Sciences 1 (2019).
 
36. Article 3.3 para 2 TEU states, “it shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.” See Consolidated Version of the European Union 2016, accessed March 17, 2022, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012M%2FTXT.
 
37. Zhong Xiaohui, “Re-familization: Intergenerational Cooperation and Conflict in House Purchase in Chinese Cities,” Journal of Public Administration 8 (2015). Zhong Xiaohui and He Shining, “Negotiated Intimacy: Parents’ Expectations of Family Relationship and Filial Piety,” Open Times 1 (2014).