A Movement for Universal Civil Registration of Children
Theme of the Campaign:
Among a wide range of Rights conferred on Children, Civil Registration is one of the significant rights, which is duly recognized as a Right under Article-7 of UNCRC. Civil Registration assumes significance in the domain of Rights of Children as it creates a relationship between the State and an Individual more particularly when it is viewed from the perspective of Right to Identity.
Indeed Registration of Birth is central to secure all other rights conferred on Children, as it is a pivotal right around which all other Rights revolve. By a process of Registration of Birth the relationship between the State and an Individual begins.
Besides, civil registration is a process through which a child secures:
The Right to a Name
The Right to have a Nationality
The Right to know Parentage
Complete, timely and accurate registration of births and deaths does not only provide accurate vital statistics regarding Birth and Death, IMR, MMR, Sex Ratio, etc. but also enables the Government for accurate development planning with exact budgetary allocation for implementation of developmental policies as well as programmes for children.
The Right of Children to be recognized by the State and establish the civil status from birth to death, are minimum pre-conditions which recognizes the Rights of Children to participate in democratic processes and claim their human rights, ranging from proof of age to access to education.
What is CRC-7 Campaign?
CRC-7 Campaign is a child centred advocacy initiative for realisation of Universal Civil Registration of Children. The Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by United Nation in 1989 under Article-7 recognizes Civil Registration immediately after Birth, as a Right of every Child.
The nomenclature of the campaign viz. CRC-7 Campaign has been coined referring to Article- 7 of the CRC which obliges the State parties to register the child immediately after birth in accordance with national civil registration system.
Origin of the Campaign:
The Campaign owes its origin from a field experiment made by Committee for Legal Aid to Poor (CLAP) under its project In Defence of Child in the City of Cuttack in Orissa, India. The initial experiment in slums of Cuttack City was made between July 1998- August 2001 when CLAP observed zero registration among underprivileged people of urban slums. In course of the field experiment the lawyers of CLAP secured for children of slum dwellers, birth registration certificates from the registration system.
Afterwards a State level Campaign was formally launched under In Defence of Child Project on 7th September 2001 in a Cuttack slum viz Hairanpur coinciding distribution of Birth Certificates to children in the presence of a galaxy of representative of UNICEF, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Government and Civil Society.
In course of the Campaign, it was realized that the sporadic intervention and mere legal awareness would not get desired result unless efforts are made to enable the community, family and parents to get the birth of their children registered under the civil registration system in accordance with the national law as it is a cumbersome and complex process. This resulted in a specific project, which was launched in 2003 in Cuttack City in the nomenclature of Civil Registration of Children Project with profound support of American Jewish World Service. The project is a part of CRC-7 Campaign which not only secures for children their birth certificates but also builds the Area as a Model Municipal Region where every birth is registered no matter whether it is a domiciliary event or an institutional birth. The Project has a mandate to achieve the goal of Universal Civil Registration by 2010 in conjunction with the goal of Population Policy of India, concerning Civil Registration.
This CRC-7 Campaign is a sequel to this field intervention on the issue of Birth Registration, at macro level.
CRC-7 Campaign envisions a society where the relation between the State and an Individual is recognized immediately after birth of every child in accordance with the civil registration system.
Universalisation of birth registration with issue of Birth Certificate as per the law of the State, which is easily accessible and available.
The CRC-7 Campaign adheres to an advocacy strategy which is evidence-based, child centred and promotes good governance in matters of civil registration that include;
a. Policy-cum-Legal Research and Analysis to identify issues and actionable points for advocacy.
b. Lobby with Legislature and Executive along with International Agencies and UN Systems.
c. Media Advocacy.
d. Alliance Building and Networking with NGOs, Civil Society Groups, Citizen Bodies, Academic Institutions.
e. Mobilisation of Popular Support.
f. Documentation and Sharing of learning, experiences and best practices.
g. Sensitisation of and Negotiation with civil registration law enforcement agencies of the State.
h. Convergence and Synergy among Stakeholders.
i. Judicial Advocacy through Legal Actions and Public Interest Litigations.
j. Training of Para-Legal Activists on law relating to Birth Registration.
The significant aspect of CRC-7 Campaign is that it not only follows an evidence-based advocacy but also undertakes its strategy based on continuous experiment and learning from a field lab at Cuttack City. It does not at all based on superficial arguments. The Field lab is a micro level intervention of CLAP which provides inputs for macro-level policy advocacy for CRC-7 Campaign. CLAP believes that any advocacy initiative must be based on facts and figures relating to the issue, practical work experience and learning as well as the opinion of the right-bearers. So CRC-7 Campaign derives its strength from this field intervention at Cuttack. However this learning and experiences can further be strengthened with inputs from other stakeholders and partners of the CRC-7 Campaign in due course of time.
CRC-7 Campaign follows a very informal and flexible structure which allows multi-stakeholders to participate in the campaign. There exist a Central Secretariat for facilitation of communication and dialogue among partners, and to provide technical guidance and support to the partners. The Campaign Secretariat is based at Cuttack, Orissa to directly link the macro-level advocacy with field lab. Individuals, NGOs, CSOs and Networks in the country who share the Campaign vision & strategy, and are interested to participate or contribute to the campaign, can be partners of the CRC-7 Campaign.
The Central Secretariat has a Core Team consisting of a Convenor, Campaign Coordinator and Campaign Secretary. Further there exists a 3-member Resource Pool for consultative purposes.
Birth Registration as a Right of Children is recognized under Article 7 of UN Convention on Rights of the Child to which India is a Signatory. Thus it is covered under International Law, which recognizes the Child's Right to have a Name, Nationality and Parentage. Similarly Article 8 of UN Convention on Rights of the Child recognizes the Right to Identity, which is also a legal right in relation to Birth Registration.
Apart from UN CRC the Right to Identity is also given a legal status by International Instruments like Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The UDHR in Article 15 says "Everyone has Right to a nationality". Similarly Article 24 of the ICCPR declares "Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name. Every child has the Right to acquire a nationality". Article 29 of International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families emphasize that each child of a migrant worker shall have the Right to a name, to registration of birth and to a nationality.
I. At the national level the Constitution of India in Part-II provides a descriptive provision from Articles 5-11 for recognition, and acquisition of Citizenship at the time of commencement of the constitution.
II. Birth Registration itself is directly finds a place in Item 30 in List III of Seventh Schedule (Concurrent List) that makes provision for Birth Registration as Vital Statistics. Similar provision finds a mention under Item 16 of Twelfth Schedule (Article 243-W-Powers, authority and responsibilities of Municipalities, etc.) of the Constitution.
I. A Central Law exists in India namely "The Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1969 (RBD Act, 1969) for registration of birth and death in the country. In accordance with the "Rule-making" provisions of this RBD Act 1969, almost all the States and Union Territories of India have formulated Rules concerning birth and death registration for their respective regions on the basis of the Model Rule framed by the Union Government.
II. The Indian Citizenship Act-1955 (57 of 1955) provides for acquisition of citizenship, after the commencement of the constitution, by birth (Birth Registration is necessary in this regard), descent, registration and so on.
III. Indian Evidence Act 1872: It is implied under Section 35, 76 and 112 of Indian Evidence Act 1872 that register maintained by Public officials for recording of birth and Birth Certificate are treated as public documents hence information contained in these documents are acceptable to be used as evidence in courts of law to establish age, sex, parentage, legitimacy of the child, guardianship, inheritance and succession right, etc.
Realizing the goal of CRC-7 Campaign in conjunction with the goal set forth in the National Population Policy concerning birth registration is a gigantic task which requires collective commitment and action by the Government and Civil Society Organisations particularly NGOs. The goal cannot be accomplished through isolated measures and sporadic action.
CRC-7 Campaign appeals to all the duty-bearers to ensure the Right of the Children concerning Birth Registration. Birth Registration is a common goal of all modern democracies.
In the best interest of the child let us pledge to work together to ensure every child through Birth Registration:
The Right to a Name
The Right to have a Nationality
The Right to know Parentage
For more Information and Feedback Please Contact
C/O: Legal Service Institute-CLAP
Bimala Devi Memorial Building
367, Marakat Nagar, Sector – 6
Cuttack – 753014, Orissa, India.
Phone: 91-671-2363980 / 2365680,