Human Rights and the Care of Older People



By Maeve O’Rourke


Published: 09 May 2024 

288 Pages

ISBN: 9780192859716


Set against the rapid aging of the world's population, Human Rights and the Care of Older People explores the potential for the rule against torture and ill-treatment in international human rights law to better protect older people from care-related mistreatment. The book's analysis is broadly relevant but is prompted by the widespread reports of older people's suffering due to lack of access to care and coercion in respect of care needs. This includes the deprivation of liberty for 'care'.

While recognizing that a new United Nations Convention on the rights of older people is on the horizon, the book argues that there is a pressing need for older people and all human rights actors to use and progressively interpret the established right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment. As an interpretive lens, the book offers a conception of a dignity violation that may amount to prohibited ill-treatment and thus trigger states' positive obligations to protect, including through systemic prevention measures.

This book is intended as a tool for advocacy and a call for critical awareness, highlighting the anti-torture norm's potential for more effective application and challenging current legal barriers to such effectiveness. Meant for readers worldwide, the book addresses the rule against torture and ill-treatment from international law, regional European, Inter-American, and African perspectives.


Author Information

Maeve O’Rourke, Assistant Professor of Human Rights, Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, University of Galway.

Maeve O’Rourke, PhD (Birmingham), LLM (Harvard), BCL (University College Dublin), is Assistant Professor of Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, University of Galway, Ireland. She is also a Barrister at 33 Bedford Row, London. She is a member of the Young Academy Ireland, a former Harvard Law School Global Human Rights Fellow, and a former recipient of the UK Family Law Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award for her research and advocacy alongside survivors of Ireland's twentieth century church/state and family separation abuses. She has authored and edited numerous publications on state responsibility for protecting human rights in the social care context. She directs the Human Rights Law Clinic at the Irish Centre for Human Rights.


Reviews and Awards

"In this timely and important book, Maeve O’Rourke eloquently and thoroughly confronts abuses and failings within the care of older persons with a focus on the imperative of dignity. In doing so, she offers vital insights on the always 'unfinished business' of the progressive interpretation of the right against torture and ill-treatment. This is an invaluable resource for human rights scholars and advocates alike." - Natasa Mavronicola, Professor of Human Rights Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham

"Through the lens of human rights law and its prohibition against torture and ill-treatment, Dr. O'Rourke offers an eye-opening, mind-bending analysis of the state's obligations to the care of older people, whose dignity and rights are at risk every day. In this carefully researched, clear presentation, Dr. O'Rourke explores the jurisprudence of regional and international courts to clarify the vulnerability that stems from the powerlessness of older persons in care facilities and to identify what constitutes ill-treatment that amounts to a violation of international norms. Her book offers a new and important assessment of standards for consent and care, arguing that states must prevent 'dignity violations.' Published at the very moment when the international community is examining the prospect of a new treaty ensuring the rights of older persons, this authoritative account couldn't be more timely." - Felice Gaer, Director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Contact Us

Payment & Security

American Express Apple Pay Google Pay Maestro Mastercard PayPal Shop Pay Union Pay Visa

Your payment information is processed securely. We do not store credit card details nor have access to your credit card information.

Estimate shipping

You may also like

Recently viewed