Universal Civil Registry and the "Right to Identity"

Civil identity is the basis for democratic governance in the Americas and throughout the world. According to UNICEF, in 2012, nine percent of children in Latin America lacked a birth certificate. The under-registration rates increase significantly in post-conflict zones, is also rife among the children of single mothers, many of whom also have no I.D.s. In the wake of migrations to urban areas, marginalized urban areas also have right rates of under-registration. In accordance with the Brazilian Constitution, registry services are run by private entities under powers delegated to them by the State. There are two cost-free ways to register births: the first is cost-free for all Brazilians and the second is cost-free for persons recognized as poor. The Civil Registry law currently in effect dates back to 1973 and is out-of-date. Nevertheless, the National Human Rights Program adopted in 2008 is addressing the issue of underregistration by including universalization of birth registration and broader access to basic documentation as one of its strategic objectives. Work is moving ahead on three fronts: mobilization, basic documentation, and structural conditions. The first front includes training mobilization officers, nation-wide campaigns focusing on the rural population, and registration in a single registry for the Federal Government's social programs. As for the basic documentation front, for the first time I.D.s are cost -free for all Brazilians. There is also a free on-line service for registration in the master file on natural persons. Finally, on the structural conditions front, there are 418 Inter-connected Units that make it possible to register births as they occur. As a result of the National Program, the percentage of unregistered newborn babies fell from 19.5 in 2009 to 6.6 in 2010, and this year is near to announce that eradicate underregistration. Civil registry coverage has also expanded, although there are still zones with underregistration, including disadvantaged metropolitan areas, areas on the northern border with a large indigenous population, and rural areas. Following challenges still facing Brazil: computerization and interconnectivity among registries; the development of a national civil documentation policy; the gathering of data to monitor citizen access to documentation; and measurement of progress toward the goal of universal registration of children under five by 2015.
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Paper/Extenso Congresos GIGAPP
Congreso Intenacional en Gobierno, Administración y Políticas Públicas
Sede INAP. Madrid, España
23-24 Sept.2013
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