Top of the Morning: US Supreme Court May Scale Back Global Human Rights Provision; UNFPA Warns of Aging Populations

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

US Supreme Court May Scale Back Key Global Human Rights Provision 

An 18th century American law that in recent years has been used to punish people and corporations engaged in human rights abuses abroad may be significantly pared back. “The U.S. Supreme Court seemed skeptical on Monday of allowing victims of human rights abuses to sue in American courts against the foreign corporations accused of aiding in the atrocities. But in oral arguments in one of the court’s biggest human rights cases in years, some justices suggested they might not close U.S. courts to similar claims against individuals, including those who take refuge in the United States, or to claims involving U.S. companies. In the case, the first of the court’s new term, 12 Nigerians accused Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell Plc of complicity in a violent crackdown on protesters by military ruler Sani Abacha from 1992 to 1995. Esther Kiobel filed her suit in 2002 on behalf of victims including her husband, Barinem, who was executed in 1995. Her case was based on a 1789 law known as the Alien Tort Statute that had been dormant for nearly two centuries before lawyers began using it in the 1980s to bring international human rights cases in U.S. courts.” (Reuters  See also, analysis from Rebecca Hamilton.

UNFPA: Population of Over 60-Year-Olds to Reach 1 billion 

A new report from the UN Population Fund calls on governments to adopt policies to prepare for ageing populations. “The number of older persons is growing faster than any other age group, says a new report, Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge, released today on International Day of Older Persons by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and HelpAge International. The new report underlines that, while the trend of ageing societies is a cause for celebration, it also presents huge challenges as it requires completely new approaches to health care, retirement, living arrangements and intergenerational relations. In 2000, for the first time in history, there were more people over 60 than children below 5. By 2050, the older generation will be larger than the under-15 population. In just 10 years, the number of older persons will surpass 1 billion people—an increase of close to 200 million people over the decade. Today two out of three people aged 60 or over live in developing countries. By 2050, this will rise to nearly four in five. If not addressed promptly, the consequences of these issues are likely to take unprepared countries by surprise. In many developing countries with large populations of young people, for example, the challenge is that governments have not put policies and practices in place to support their current older populations or made enough preparations for 2050.” (UNFPA