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Legal and regulatory frameworks

Roles and responsibilities for vital statistics

The civil registration law can place responsibility for both the CRVS functions in one single agency, or it can divide those functions amongst several agencies, with, for example, one government agency responsible for civil registration functions and a different one responsible for producing vital statistics data. If the civil registration and vital statistics functions are in different agencies, some type of formal structure for coordination, communication, and data-sharing between those agencies should be established for efficient operation of the system.

The present set of principles and recommendations (see Read more, below) provides guidance on:

  • Establishing a functioning system for collecting, processing and disseminating vital statistics
  • Improving sources of vital statistics, primarily by improving the functioning of the civil registration system and its components
  • The role of complementary sources of vital statistics, such as population censuses, household surveys and health records.

Chapter III of Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system discusses the topics and themes to be covered in a vital statistics system, and these are grouped under two main headings: 1) characteristics of the event in question, and 2) characteristics of the persons directly involved in the event, such as the child, the parents or the decedent. The law should define broad areas such as the obligation to register births and deaths, and certify cause of death. Regulations should define aspects such as the characteristics of vital events that should be recorded.

Links with other agencies

The law should specify:

  • The type of ministry or agency that is designated to lead the CRVS system
  • The extent to which this anchor ministry holds decision-making power
  • The roles and responsibilities of collaborating ministries and agencies
  • The organisation of the civil registration service
  • The administrative reporting relationships between the civil registry and its constituent bodies, as well as their respective reporting and hierarchical relationships
  • The composition and duties of each of the registration bodies
  • The charter applicable to the personnel that the civil registration service employs
  • The system of remedies against rulings by the registrars
  • Funding arrangements for the registration service.


Read more

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system. United Nations, New York.


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