Fourth Asia and the Pacific regional conference on universal birth registration
BANGKOK, 17 March 2006
We met in Bangkok, Thailand from 13-17 March 2006 for the 4th Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference on Universal Birth Registration. We were representatives of government, non-government, international and youth-led organizations from 22 countries across the region and other parts of the world. Our discussions were also enhanced by the contributions of civil registrars from the participating countries.
At the conference, we acknowledged that there has been progress since the 3rd Regional Universal Birth Registration Conference in January 2003. Notable areas of progress at the national level include the enactment of birth registration laws and amendments to existing legislation, and innovations that have resulted in more effective systems and increased rates of birth registration. We acknowledge that there is now more access to birth registration in Asian and Pacific Island countries than there was three years ago.
We recognize the significance of birth registration as part of complete civil registration for the exercise of human rights, to generate reliable vital statistics and to contribute to good governance. Birth registration, in particular, is critical to the realization and protection of children’s rights. We also acknowledge that challenges remain and that there is much work to be done to achieve our shared goal of Universal Birth Registration.
National legislation should enable all children born within any country to be registered and issued a birth certificate. We believe that birth registration should be universal, non-discriminatory, compulsory, accessible and free of charge, and that first issuance of birth certificates should be without cost. We need to advocate with relevant government authorities to allocate adequate resources for effective birth registration. We acknowledge that political will and commitment at the highest levels are needed for this to happen.
We need to work with children, youth, families, communities and civil society in all birth registration initiatives, especially on awareness-raising. We also need to raise awareness with policy-makers and implementers on the importance of birth registration.
We recognize that during disasters and emergencies, unregistered children are at greater risk of exploitation. Disasters and emergencies reveal the civil registration system’s weaknesses and strengths. Laws should be introduced or amended to include provisions for disaster and emergency situations, including simplified civil registration procedures.
Birth registration systems must be streamlined and simplified, and other basic services such as health and education linked with them. We now encourage governments to take advantage of information and communication technologies, while considering issues of privacy and confidentiality.
Our message from the conference is:
We are pleased that one of the outcomes of the 4th Asia and the Pacific Conference on Universal Birth Registration is a commitment to form a civil registrars network. The civil registrars participating in the conference resolved to reach Universal Birth Registration by 2015, thus contributing to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. They also look forward to continuing their partnership with Plan and UNICEF to achieve this. A second outcome of the conference is each country’s priorities for taking Universal Birth Registration forward in the coming years.
We acknowledge that among other challenges before us, we still need to continue our national and regional dialogues on the linkages among birth registration, nationality and citizenship, so that our practices are in accordance with Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. No child should be left stateless.
UNICEF EAPRO and Plan International. 4th Asia and the Pacific regional conference on universal birth registration report. 2006.