ACERWC General Comment on Article 6 of the Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Published: 16/Apr/2014
Source: African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Article 6 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provides:

1. Every child shall have the right from his birth to a name.
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth.
3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.
4. States Parties to the present Charter shall undertake to ensure that their Constitutional legislation recognize the principles according to which a child shall acquire the nationality of the State in the territory of which he has been born if, at the time of the child’s birth, he is not granted nationality by any other State in accordance with its laws.

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child adopted this General Comment on Article 6 in April 2014 at its 23rd ordinary session, and a public launch event was held in February 2015 during the Third Conference of African Ministers of responsible for Civil Registration (09-13 February) in Yamoussoukrou.

Extract from the General Comment:

23. The Committee holds the view that the rights to a name, to birth registration and to acquire a nationality together constitute the pillars of a person‟s identity. At birth, acquisition of nationality under the law generally occurs automatically on the basis of either descent or birth in the territory, or a combination of both; parentage and place of birth may also be the basis for later acquisition of nationality as a child or at majority. Birth registration establishes the place of birth and parental affiliation, which in legal terms serve as proof of acquisition of the  parents‟ nationality, or the nationality of the State where the child is born. While birth registration in and of itself does not normally confer nationality upon children, it is a key form of proof of the link between the child and a State. It thereby serves to ensure that every child  acquires a nationality and prevents statelessness. The Committee therefore emphasizes, as noted in the Kenyan Nubian Children Case, that “there is a strong and direct link between birth registration and nationality”8; that is, that paragraphs (3) and (4) of Article 6 are closely linked to paragraph (2). A State‟s compliance with the obligation to prevent and reduce statelessness starts from taking all necessary measures to ensure that all children born on its territory are registered. These include: children born out of wedlock, children born to a parent or parents who are foreigners (including those whose parents are in an irregular immigration status, or who are refugees or asylum seekers), children whose parents are unknown, and all other groups at risk of non-registration. Birth registration of all children born in a territory must be effected even where it is clear from the outset that the nationality of the state in question will not be conferred.

24. The Committee underlines that even where children are entitled to acquire the nationality of a particular State pursuant to the Constitution, nationality law or related legislation of that State, in some instances they may not be considered nationals of that State due to lack of documentary proof of their identity, including proof of the nationality of their parents or of their place of birth. While the obligation of States is to ensure that birth registration is universal, free and accessible, as outlined in this General Comment, States should also adopt laws and procedures that allow for alternative forms of evidence of possession of a nationality where a birth certificate is not available or accessible. These may include the notification of birth provided by a hospital or clinic, oral testimony from a birth attendant, religious leader  or other person with knowledge of the birth, and other appropriate forms of documentary or non-documentary evidence

Available at ACERWC website:

Download file: ACERWC, General Comment on Article 6 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Themes: Acquisition of nationality, Acquisition by children, African and international standards, African standards, Birth Registration
Regions: Pan Africa
Year: 2014