General Comment No. 7

Indicator Set 6: Birth Registration

Every year, 51 million children around the world are not registered at birth. This is an alarming number, since birth registration is a basic human right. The right to be registered at birth is enshrined in article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Because several other rights depend upon it, birth registration is a core early childhood right. As article 7 states, every child has the right to a name at birth and the right to acquire citizenship. These are basic aspects of the child’s identity. The state has a duty to protect and preserve these basic aspects of the child’s identity (article 8). Indicator 5 aims to inform States parties of their duties under articles 7 and 8. To realise these basic rights, countries require effective birth registration. This helps to promote the best interests of children (article 3).

An effective system of birth registration recognises that children have rights; it is free of charge, does not discriminate (article 2), and is available to all. Children without proof of birth may lack essential protections. They may be denied access to crucial services, including health care, education, and social security. They may be denied their right to inherit property. They may also be denied citizenship rights, such as the ability to hold a passport, voting rights, and marriage rights. An effective system of registration not only ensures births are registered as early as possible but also makes it easy to register births later. Effective birth registration is a key part of national planning and policy.

Indicator 5 aims to measure and monitor the effectiveness of States parties’ systems for registration. It wants to make sure children around the world have the basic right to be registered at birth. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does not list what information must be registered at birth. However, other rights named in the Convention imply that registration should include, as a minimum:

  • The child’s name at birth
  • The child’s sex
  • The child’s date of birth
  • Where the child was born
  • Parents’ names and addresses
  • Parents’ nationality status

Key Question: With respect to articles 2, 3, 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, what measures are in place or what progress has been made towards implementing or analysing the success of a free-of-charge, non-discriminatory and accessible birth registration system intended to encourage the maximum levels of child registration as soon as possible after birth?