Constitutional rights of older people - A handbook for practical use


Sponsorship area


Sponsorship amount

CHF 78,000

Sponsorship term

2017 - 2019


Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR), Bern

Focus: People approaching the third stage of life

Constitutional and human rights apply equally to all people - regardless of their age. However, younger, and older people face different problems when it comes to exercising their rights.

The particular need to protect children and young people has been one issue at the international level for some time now. Considering the demographic development, the constitutional and human rights of older people have also increasingly become the focus of interest in the last few years.

Assessment of the situation

In 2016, the Schweizerische Kompetenzzentrum für Menschenrechte (SCHR) (Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights) conducted a survey of the constitutional and human rights situation of older people in Switzerland. According to the results of several expert interviews, the SCHR identified six areas in which particular attention must be paid to the constitutional rights of older people because of the circumstances of their daily lives.

This includes the areas of work, housing, health, participation, violent situations, as well as disadvantages and discrimination situations.

Promoting awareness of the fundamental rights of old age

The specific challenges faced by older people in these areas are generally well known. However, there is often a lack of awareness that their fundamental rights may be affected in everyday life, as well. This is especially the case when third parties, whether private or public authorities, intervene in the daily lives of elderly people who suffer from health problems. The Hirschmann Foundation intends to raise awareness of the fundamental rights of older people through the project "Fundamental Rights in Old Age - A Handbook".

Based on the assessment of the current situation, the author Sandra Egli from the University of Fribourg has developed a handbook about the topic of "Fundamental Rights in Old Age" in collaboration with Andrea Egbuna-Joss, from the University of Fribourg, Sabrina Ghielmini, from the SCHR/University of Zurich, Prof. Eva Maria Belser, from the SCHR/University of Fribourg and Prof. Christine Kaufmann, from the SCHR/University of Zurich.

Examples from practice

The handbook was published in both German and French in 2019 by the Interact Publisher in Lucerne. It is aimed at people who regularly encounter older people in their daily lives, such as relatives, staff in old people's homes and hospitals, as well as members of the communal, cantonal, or federal authorities.

The handbook intends to provide an introduction to the importance of fundamental rights for older people using easy-to-understand language with practical examples and to point out specific options available for taking action.