27 February 2015: Earlier this month I attended the Third Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration in Yamoussoukro, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, where I was responsible for communications at the conference on behalf of UNICEF (I’m pictured right in the background at the Plan International stand).
Ministers agreed to launch a Decade of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) with the goal of “leaving no child out” and “no country behind” in the effort to register all births and vital events in Africa.
Globally, the births of nearly 230 million children under age five have never been recorded. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 37 per cent of these children.
Birth registration is itself a first right (the right to identity) and impacts on issues such as justice for children; prevention of harmful practices; the rights to health, education and social welfare; the right to parental care and protection; rights of children with disabilities; the obligation to prevent statelessness; and the prevention of abuses such as recruitment as a child into the armed forces, sexual exploitation, child labour, human trafficking, child marriage, and disinheritance.
Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF ESARO, Mark Hereward, speaking at the conference.
One of the most exciting things about the conference was the launch of General Comment 2 on Article 6 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which recognizes and gives meaning and scope to three interlinked rights namely: the right to a name, the right to birth registration, and the right to a nationality.
Bronwen Manby of the LSE called it a ground-breaking document saying:
“It is in its interpretation of the right to a nationality that the General Comment is perhaps most significant and innovative.”
This is because it goes beyond the scope of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by saying that a child who cannot acquire the nationality of his or her parents shall acquire the nationality of the country where he or she is born.
Read an OpEd, Statement by UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa’s Deputy Director (pictured above), and a joint media release issued by UNICEF, the African Union Commission (AUC), Plan International and UNECA.