Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

New UN resolution: registering all births

The Health Metrics Network (HMN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) welcome adoption, yesterday, by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution on birth registration.

The resolution, entitled “Birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”, seeks action for universal registration at birth of all individuals, in order to reduce the high number of individuals throughout the world who are not registered and may never be registered during their lifetime. The resolution was initiated and drafted by Mexico and Turkey and received broad co-sponsorship in the Human Rights Council. HMN and WHO participated in consultations on the draft resolution and provided technical input.

WHO estimates that 40 million, or approximately one third of, births are not registered each year. Many barriers can prevent people from registering births including: poverty, social exclusion, remote geographical location, disability, discrimination and vulnerability, as well as a country’s laws, administration and infrastructure. It is critical that registration of a birth is followed by the issuance of an official birth certificate.

In 2011, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, co-chaired and hosted by the World Health Organization, recommended that by 2015 “all countries [would] have taken significant steps to establish a system for registration of births, deaths and causes of death,…” HMN has been designated as a key partner to lead actions for the realization of objectives of this first recommendation of the Commission. WHO and partners are currently facilitating a series of intercountry workshops on the Accountability Framework in which country teams start planning for a national roadmap to follow up on the recommendations of the Commission. Strengthening civil registration systems is a key component in this effort.

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HMN/M. Henry
Antique Pennsylvania German birth/baptism certificate (Fraktur Taufschein) combines folk art with name, date and place of birth information.