The registration of birth is a basic right.A birth certificate provides legal proof of age and identity. It often is a prerequisite for access to basic services, such as health and education, to claim inheritance rights, or to curb child marriage and ensure age- appropriate treatment by the justice system. Birth registration is also an important source of data, required to properly plan for social services. Birth registration is part of civil registration, which extends to the registration of marriage and death. Compulsory marriage registration is an important mechanism to curtail child marriage. Impediments to registration include cost and geographic inaccessibility. Registration of death provides important data, which informs policy and resource allocation. Birth registration is sometimes linked to the right to nationality. Children may be refused nationality in their country of birth, on the basis of their parents’ citizenship, or their ethnicity, and be considered ineligible for birth registration. Birth registration is closely linked to the prevention of statelessness. While not all children born without birth registration are stateless, those born to, for example, refugee or asylum-seeking parents, a lack of birth registration can cause statelessness. Under the African Children’s Charter, States are required to ensure that children are registered ‘immediately after birth’ (article 6(2), and that marriages are officially registered (article 21(2)). The SDGs include a specific commitment to providing legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030.
- Birth registration is universal, compulsory and free.
- All legal systems contain an effective and accessible framework for the registration of all births.
- This framework is implemented effectively to ensure that every child is registered at birth.
- An accessible system for the registration of marriages and deaths is also put in place.
- All legal systems contain an effective and accessible provision ensuring that a child acquires the nationality of the country of his or her birth, if, at birth, the child is not granted nationality by any other State.