The obligation to protect and assist children in times of war is a basic principle of human rights and humanitarian law. Establishing a legal identity is an essential first step in safeguarding children’s right to protection and assistance.
Children’s right to be registered at birth and their right to a name and identity are formally recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Birth registration is instrumental in safeguarding other human rights because it provides the official ‘proof’ of a child’s existence. This documentation is crucial, especially during times of armed conflict or civil unrest. The ‘invisibility’ of non-registered children increases their vulnerability and the risk that violations of their rights will go unnoticed. Providing children with birth registration during and after conflict is, therefore, a matter of urgent priority.
In collaboration with governments, UN agencies and civil society partners, UNICEF’s efforts to secure the right to birth registration for all children are an essential step in providing care and protection and safeguarding the rights of children most vulnerable to the impacts of war.