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

Birth registration and children’s rights: a complex story

This paper will highlight some of the key findings from Plan International’s exploratory research ‘Birth registration and children’s rights: a complex story.’ Whilst birth registration is a stand-alone right under the UNCRC, it has also been linked to an array of other rights and benefits, such as securing a child’s access to essential services. However, there is a lack of available empirical research exploring the effects of birth registration and how it benefits children in practice. This led Plan International to commission a study to investigate the benefits of birth registration for the individual and for the state. The research utilised qualitative and quantitative methods and focused on India, Kenya, Vietnam and Sierra Leone as case studies. The findings provide a detailed and complex picture of the relationship between birth registration and children’s rights, in particular with regards to legal identity, access to services, child protection and governance. Within this paper, we will focus on the connection between birth registration and legal identity. Whilst this was found to be an important relationship, the research raises some key questions with regards to the potential exclusion of marginalised groups. These will be further explored alongside the importance of placing birth registration within a broader CRVS context.

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The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity