The Government of Japan and UNICEF join hands to enhance birth registration system in Timor-Leste

DILI, Timor-Leste, 07 September 2018

UNICEF Timor-Leste
UNICEF Timor-Leste/2018/bsoares

DILI, Timor-Leste, 07 September 2018 - The Government of Japan and UNICEF signed an Exchange of Notes today to strengthen the universal birth registration system in Timor-Leste. Hiroshi Minami, the Ambassador of Japan to Timor-Leste and Valérie Taton, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste signed the “Exchange of Notes” in the presence of Merício Juvenal dos Reis ‘Akara’, Secretary of State for Social Communication, Roy Trivedy, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Timor-Leste and Elias Pereira, Director General of Statistic, Ministry of Finance. Under this project, the Government of Japan will provide a 273 million Japanese Yen (approximately US$ 2.5 million) grant for three years aiming to establish a robust birth registration system in the country.

“This important partnership will play a significant role to establish proper birth registration system in the country,” said Secretary of State ‘Akara’, while expressing his appreciation. “It will contribute to realize the commitment of the Government made in the National Action Plan for Children. Under this project the cross-sectoral coordination will facilitate reaching vulnerable children and women with much-needed services.”

“Birth registration is the basis of fundamental human rights and it is stipulated in the article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Birth registration is essential for the basic social services such as education, health care and social protection,” said Hiroshi Minami, Ambassador of Japan during his remarks. He concluded it “by hoping that this project will enhance the protection of human rights of, facilitate the necessary social services for, and empower the children in Timor-Leste so that they will be essential players for the nation building and the economic development of Timor-Leste.”

“Every child has the right of a name and nationality stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Valerie Taton, Representative of UNICEF Timor-Leste at the signing ceremony. “The Government of Timor-Leste has made steady progress to ensure birth registration of its citizen. However, it is essential to establish a functional and efficient system in the country to reach every child. This project will contribute to the efforts of the Government of Timor-Leste to establish a modern, robust universal birth registration system in collaboration with various partners engage with the project,” she said with hope.

According to the latest Census, around 40 per cent children under five years of old do not have birth registration, while 60 per cent of children who have registered their birth yet to have an actual birth certificate. Timely and accurate birth registration data supports evidence-based planning for both national and local government bodies which are responsible for essential social services including education, health, social protection and other services, thus ensure good governance and accountability.

The three-year project will be implemented by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of State Administration, Ministry Social Solidarity and Inclusion, General Directorate of Statistics/Ministry of Finance, Secretariat of State and Social Communications, National University of Timor-Leste, National Commission for the Rights of the Child, and Secretary of State of Youth and Sport of the Government of Timor-Leste including non-government agencies. The project will contribute to enhancing inter-ministerial coordination and adopting multi-sectorial approach for ensuring modern birth registration system is in place in the country.

Considering the importance of birth registration and overall Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system, the Government of Timor-Leste declared their commitment together with other countries in Asia and Pacific, and adopted the Ministerial Declaration to “Get Every One in the Picture in Asia and the Pacific” as part of the Regional Action Framework on CRVS in Asia and the Pacific and Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade (2015-2024). A specific action was also mentioned in the National Action Plan for the Children in Timor-Leste (2016-2020) which was approved by the Council of Ministers and launched by the President of Timor-Leste in 2017.

Ensuring universal birth registration is a key to a good start in life regardless of a child’s socio-economic status, sex or geographical location of the home. It contributes to good governance and sustainable development of the country.