UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office enters into formal partnership with CHIP to improve birth registration

In alignment with organisational targets at global, continental and regional levels, and an overall child rights approach to the work, the UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa has placed the achievement of universal birth registration as one of its key priorities. CHIP’s mission is to work with States and other stakeholders to promote universal birth registration and full documentation of family relations. UNICEF recognises that CHIP has been instrumental in advancing a new paradigm around the child’s rights to an identity and family linkage.  As countries across WCAR are striving towards achievement of universal birth registration, as per SDG 16.9, and while data collected by UNICEF indicate that some countries are on track, there is still a clear indication that accelerated efforts are required. While there are technical and strategic solutions to achievement of the needed acceleration, as evidenced through the potential of interoperability with health and gradual digitalization of services, and while Ministers in charge of civil registration are well aligned around these approaches, the advancement of sustainable solutions at scale, and with the required institutional arrangements and fiscal space, is a matter that ultimately requires full engagement at the highest political level.

On that basis, noting the political nature of the civil registration and vital statistics environment, UNICEF WCARO and CHIP are establishing a partnership, with the overall objective of harnessing high level political commitment, action and improved resource allocation towards acceleration of the fulfillment of a children’s rights to legal identity in West and Central Africa, as per the regional Key Results for Children agenda, UNICEF 2022-2025 Strategic Plan Goal Area 3 and SDG target 16.9.  This will entail:

  1. Seek opportunities through regional and continental platforms to advance the centrality of universal legal identity in the context of SDG achievement in West and Central Africa
  2. Provide strategic and technical input and advice and support political engagement at country level for scaling up and decentralizing birth registration service delivery
  3. Strengthen the evidence about the criticality of birth registration for access to different services, to prevent child marriage and exploitation (labour, trafficking, early recruitment to armed forces), as well as statelessness

The partnership will capitalise on the extensive experience of Cornelius Williams, Senior Advisor of CHIP and former Global Director of Child Protection UNICEF, who has been leading universal birth registration and legal identity across the globe for decades. As one of the three co-chairs of the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda Task Force, he spearheaded UNICEF’s effort in conjunction with the other chairs from UNDSEA and UNDP to establish the UN agenda on legal identity. Cornelius Williams has been an advocate of civil registration in Africa. He was a board member of ID4Africa and played a pivotal role in the development of the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics as a pioneer member of the CORE Group in 2012.

© UNICEF/UN0711969/Dejongh

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