The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity

Civil Registration Centre for Development, The Hague and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg

Unique Legal Identity and the Spread of National Identification Programs

Proof of unique legal identity is assuming a more prominent role for accessing rights and benefits in many countries as well as for market transactions. In response to such needs, countries have been implementing a range of identification programs, and the trend will only continue with the further development of e-ID. Some programs, notably in Latin America (Peru, Chile, Uruguay) , have a solid foundation in birth- and civil registration. Many others are detached from traditional registration programs (Indonesia, India, most voter ID programs); others seek to use the national ID infrastructure to strengthen birth- and civil registration (Pakistan). Some countries have too many programs, resulting in waste and ineffectiveness.

The paper will document the trend towards National ID programs and also the increasing use of biometric technology in these programs. It draws on data released by India’s UID program to illustrate the degree of potential coverage of multi-modal biometrics and also the accuracy of this technology, which is seen as central for the integrity of such programs, especially in the context of large, mobile, populations. It will also consider the implications as such programs are extended to countries without adequate frameworks for data privacy and with lower legal capacity. Finally, it will reflect on the relationship between such national programs and birth and civil registration, and the requirements for rigorous “cradle-to-grave” identity.

Event reference: 
The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity