Birth registration

Most recent statistics estimate that 36 percent of children are currently not registered. Children who are not registered at birth do not appear in official statistics and are not acknowledged as members of their society. By linking birth registration to early childhood care programmes, a legal hurdle can become a helpful referral to promote improved health, education and protection for disadvantaged children and their caretakers. Birth registration is a fundamental human right that provides access to other rights such as education and health care, participation and protection. Unregistered children operate at a disadvantage within social, cultural, economic and political spheres. Lack of registration exacerbates poverty and underscores marginalisation. Both UNICEF and Plan International appear to be exploring this area more fully, with the first researching the current situation and the latter running a campaign.

We welcome your feedback: please send comments or suggested additions to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org.

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

The 'rights' start to life

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
2005

Expand view

This is a publication produced by the United Nations Children's Fund and is a statistical analysis of birth registration. Birth registration is a fundamental human right and an essential means of protecting a child's identity. This objective of this study is to present available empirical evidence to understand which factors are associated with children who obtain a birth certificate. By analysing levels of birth registration in the context of other health, education and poverty indicators, the study points to opportunities to integrate advocacy and behaviour change campaigns for birth registration with early childhood care and immunisation. By linking birth registration to early childhood care programmes, a legal hurdle can become a helpful referral to promote improved health, education and protection for disadvantaged children and their caretakers. Particular references to ethnic groups and minorities appear on page 12 and on page 22

The state of the world's children 2006 : excluded and invisible

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
2005

Expand view

The 2006 UNICEF report focuses on children who are 'excluded' or 'invisible', and is an assessment of the world's most vulnerable children. These are the children, that even if the Millenium Development Goals are met, will be left out. They are the ones who are currently beyond the reach of laws, programmes, research and budgets. The report states that children in four circumstances are most likely to become invisible and forgotten: children without a formal identity, children without parental care, children in adult roles and children who are exploited. For example, children who are not registered at birth do not appear in official statistics and are not acknowledged as members of their society. Discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity and disability are also factors in the exclusion of children. The report outlines concrete actions that can be taken by civil society, the private sector, donors and the media to help prevent children falling between the cracks

Universal birth registration : a universal responsibility

PLAN INTERNATIONAL
2005

Expand view

This publication is the final report arising from a Plan International campaign on universal birth registration. Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that 'the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right to a name and the right to acquire a nationality'. Most recent statistics estimate that 36 percent of children are currently not registered. Without a birth certificate, children may have difficulty proving to officials that they are eligible for assistance at times of personal and national crisis. They may have problems accessing human rights such as care and education. They can be at risk of exclusion and not fulfilling their potential by operating at a disadvantage within social, cultural, economic and political spheres. This campaign aims to ensure that evey child is registered at birth

Journal articles

Birth registration : right from the start

INNOCENTI RESEARCH CENTRE, UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
March 2002

Expand view

This Digest looks at birth registration -- a fundamental human right that opens the door to other rights, including education and health care, participation and protection. Unregistered children are often the children of the poor and excluded, such as refugees or particular indigenous groups. Lack of registration exacerbates their poverty and underscores their marginalisation. Non-registration also has serious implications for national goverments. Countries need to know how many people they have and how many there are likely to be in the future, in order to plan effectively. This Digest emphasizes the crucial importance of birth registration, explores the obstacles to universal registration and highlights the actions -- including awareness raising, legislative changes, resource allocation and capacity building -- that are needed to ensure the registration of every child

Organisations

Mirror Art Group (MAG)

Thailand

Expand view

106 Moo 1 Ban Huay Khom
T. Mae Yao
A. Muang
Chiang Rai 57100

The Mirror Art Group is a local NGO working in the Mae Yao sub-district of the Chiang Rai province in the North of Thailand. The goal is to build a better life for the hill communities whilst retaining their cultural identity. Projects include documenting the cultural life on a website (www.hilltribe.org), developing a missing persons locator website for families broken up through migration, combatting trafficking in women and children and a Thai citizenship project. The latter is a project ensuring citizenship rights for the tribal communities. Activities include birth registration and documentation, genetic tests to prove Thai origin and literacy programmes to navigate the bureaucratic procedures

Plan International

UK

Expand view

Dukes Court
Block A
Duke Street
Woking
Surrey
G21 5BH

Plan International aims to achieve lasting improvements in the quality of life of deprived children in developing countries through a process that unites people across cultures and adds meaning and value to their lives by (i) enabling deprived children, their families, and their communities to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies, (ii) building relationships to increase understanding and unity among people of different cultures and countries and (iii) promote the rights and interests of the world's children. Plan works on a variety of themes, specifically focusing on education, health, habitat, livelihoods and building relationships. They are currently running a campaign for universal birth registration