Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) is crucial for individuals as well as for society at large. Civil registration, and the personal documents it provides, give people a formal legal identity, civil status and recognize their key family relationships. The proof of legal identity provided by an official birth certificate in turn provides access to a host of services and entitlements, ranging from schooling and banking, to claiming inheritances, a nationality and a passport. Proof of legal identity is one of the most important things a person can own and a legal identity is a human right, which is why CRVS is fundamental in rights-based inclusive development.
Providing identity for all is fundamental to several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an SDG target in its own right. The provision of legal documentation of civil registration of births, deaths and other vital events to all individuals is also one of the three goals of the Regional Action Framework of the Asia and Pacific CRVS Decade. However, efforts need to be intensified if we are to achieve the targets by, first, 2024 for the Regional Action Framework and, then, by 2030 for the SDGs. Ensuring a holistic approach to legal identity from birth to death by linking identity management systems with CRVS systems is a fundamental step to providing legal identity for all and at the core of the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda. But as shown in the midterm report of the Asia and Pacific CRVS Decade,1 many countries need to strengthen their CRVS systems first to ensure they are universal, accurate, and reliable. Furthermore, the linkages and interoperability between the systems often requires explicit guidance and devoted resources to make them functional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for robust identity management systems, whether through the administration of social protection schemes to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions through to vaccination schemes where residents are often prioritized on the basis on age and other conditions. However, concomitantly, the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic have often made the implementation of identity management schemes more challenging.
Issues for discussion:
- How does strengthening CRVS systems and establishing the organic links between CRVS and identity management systems support inclusive development and gender equality?
- What are the ingredients for building inclusive identity management systems that link to a country’s CRVS system and how is it possible to ensure that all populations are included to provide identity for all?
- How can identity management impact upon Covid-19 response and vice versa?