The goal of the Working Group on Universal Birth registration is to promote universal birth registration as part of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) through United Nations human rights and humanitarian bodies, as well as other key institutions. CRVS is defined as the acts of recording and documenting vital events in a person’s life (birth, marriage, divorce, adoption, and death. Such registration provides individuals with the documentary evidence often required to secure recognition of their legal identify, family relationship, nationality and ensuing rights. With a legal identity, an individual has improved access to essential services, such as healthcare, education and social welfare. read more:

Birth registration, official record of a child’s birth by a government that establishes legal identity, is an essential first step in a lifetime cycle of civil registration. It is a fundamental human right enshrined in Articles 7 and 8 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives every child the right to be registered at birth by the State within whose jurisdiction she/he is born. Birth registration also serves as a prerequisite to the realization of other human rights integral to a child’s development and well-being. It is a crucial first step towards building a protective environment against abuse, exploitation, violence and statelessness.

The UBR Working Group

The UBR Working Group was established in early 2012 after two years of informal activities. The group’s primary purpose is to promote universal birth registration through United Nations human rights and humanitarian bodies, as well as other key institutions.

The current objectives are (click to expand):
  • To effectively mobilize interested NGOs, particularly those in child rights that are based in Geneva and elsewhere to support advocacy for universal birth registration, as part of civil registration and vital statistics.
  • To engage in the UN human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council sessions, UPR process and treaty bodies in support of universal birth registration as part of civil registration and vital statistics.
  • To make targeted interventions at various events in the UNHCR calendar for birth registration within CRVS.
  • To work on the dissemination of the 2013 Ex-com conclusion on Civil registration.

2013 UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion

After more than 3 years of intense advocacy work by the UBR Working Group,the governing body of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) unanimously adopted a piece of international law specifically focused on civil registration, on the 17th of October 2013. This incredible advocacy achievement represents a breakthrough, setting the framework for civil registration as a tool to protect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.

The following video produced by the Working Group features input from government, UNHCR and NGO representatives on the importance of civil registration and the key elements of the 2013 UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion.

Back to Top

Opportunities for Advocacy for UBR

In Geneva and beyond there will be several occasions to raise birth registration issues.  Some occur on a regular basis. Thus, plans can be made in advance to lobby to improved standards in legislation, policies and practices to ensure that everyone can be engaged. These events include:

    • The annual UN General Assembly Third Committee on human rights in NY
    • The Committee on the Rights of the Child country review process in Geneva
    • The Human Rights Council sessions and Universal Periodic Review processes in Geneva
    • Regional and national meeting on children, refugees, IDPs, or stateless people; and other marginalized groups who may not have proper identification.

Back to Top

Membership in the UBR Working Group

The UBR Working Group welcomes the active participation of peer organizations. Current members of the working group include:

Contact details of the Working Group

If your organisation would like to join the working group or requires more information on the Working Group of Universal Birth Registration , please contact  Stuart Kean at stuart.kean(at)worldvision.org.uk.

Back to Top