Birth registration

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, provides that every child shall be registered immediately after birth.

As noted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, in a General Comment providing comprehensive guidance on the obligations of states, “At a practical level, the greatest obstacle to the effective realization of the right to a nationality in Africa is the lack of functional and universal civil registration systems. In the absence of proof of the circumstances of a child’s birth – both the child’s parentage and place of birth – it is very difficult to ensure that the child obtains recognition of its nationality, whether that of his or her parents, or of the State where he or she is born.”

Rates of birth registration are very low in many sub-Saharan African states. The African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa, and African Development Bank have collaborated with other international agencies on a major initiative to improve civil registration in Africa.

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