What is CRVS and why does every country need it?
What is the purpose of civil registration?
The primary purpose of civil registration is to establish the legal documents required by law. Civil registration generates documentation that supports an individual’s right to recognition as a person before the law and acknowledges their formal relationship with the state. Individuals are able to have their existence, identity, and vital events legally recognised and obtain proof of legal and civil status through valid certificates. The absence of civil registration has been described as a ‘scandal of invisibility’.
The documentary evidence and permanent records established through civil registration enable individuals to make claims of legal identity, civil status and family relationships, therefore:
- Protecting a variety of social, economic, cultural, political and human rights
- Facilitating access to essential services such as healthcare, education and social protection
- Enabling political participation, property ownership, recourse to justice, formal employment, inheritance and the use of banking and financial services
- Offering the basis for identity documents such as a passport or ID
- Reducing the risk of statelessness, child marriage and human trafficking.
People without such documentation may face barriers in exercising their social, economic, cultural, political and human rights, such as:
- The right to a name and to make claims of nationality
- The right to social protection – for example, against child labour or marriage – by having proof of age
- The right to access services, such as health care, education, social security and cash transfers for the poor
- The right to participate in political processes such as voting and standing for electoral office
- The right to economic participation, such as property ownership, formal employment, inheritance and the use of banking and financial services
- The right to recourse to justice.
Thus, civil registration is an important instrument through which fundamental human rights enshrined in international declarations1 and conventions2 are supported in legal instruments.
1 General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) (1948).
2 United Nations (1999). Treaty Series, volume 1577, no. 27531.
Setel P et al (2007). A scandal of invisibility: Making everyone count by counting everyone. The Lancet.
United Nations (1948). Universal declaration of human rights.
United Nations (1989). Convention on the rights of the child, article 7.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system. United Nations, New York.
United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council (2015). Twenty-eighth session, agenda item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development: Birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, A/HRC/28/13.
United Nations General Assembly (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, A/RES/70/1.