The Community of Sant’Egidio initiated the program BRAVO! (Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion) to meet the challenge of a growing number of unregistered children and the consequences of non-registration on the peace and stability of many developing countries. UNICEF estimates confirm that the number of children each year are not registered at birth has increased and today approximately one in four children under the age of five worldwide and not registered.
The program BRAVO! wants to ensure the registration of children at birth, by promoting the development of civil registration systems, educating parents and children, and collaborating with the ministries and governmental institutions involved.
The lack of birth registration is fueling conflicts and is a source of instability: it is detrimental to both children and adults. Birth registration is a right enshrined in Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989, which was ratified by the United Nations.
The overall framework of civil registration in the world is unfortunately quite sad and the indifference of the world continues to fuel the problem. Only 28% of children under the age of five worldwide, 61% in the least developed countries, are unregistered according to UNICEF. These children are more likely to become involved in abuse of different types – from sexual abuse, to recruitment into the armed forces, to early marriages, etc. Birth registration is an essential tool for the protection of children.
Civil Registration is also a tool that allows you to access other rights and services that the state is obliged to provide to their citizens thus affecting a person’s entire life span. It has consequences on the individual’s role in the state, but also about his personal life. There are many areas where civil registration plays a significant role, some of which include:
- Timely start of elementary education
- Completion of education
- Starting-up in any economic activities: work, business, etc.
- Marriage and family
- Political rights
- Protection of children in juvenile court
- Protection of children against recruitment in the armed forces
- Protection against early or unwanted marriage
Birth registration is a key element of daily life. It substantially enhances both the familiar and social fabric and provides a firm support to the administrative system of the state. A proper registration system that ensures timely registration of all births provides everyone with a number of opportunities and rights. It is a subtle, yet important factor, which produces effects that are felt throughout the population and the entire country.
Two out of three children in sub-Saharan Africa are not registered, or are, from a legal point of view, invisible children. The Community of Sant’Egidio wants to commit itself to tear these children from invisibility and give them the opportunity to fully exercise their rights and be responsible citizens of the country where they live.
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