Bangkok (ESCAP News) — More than 100 million children under the age of five in Asia and the Pacific have not had their births registered, and only four countries in the region have high quality information on why people are dying. As a consequence, millions of people in the region are without a legal identity, and live and die without leaving an official trace. People who are unregistered are hidden from policy-makers and unable to exercise many of their legal rights.
This week, ministers, senior government officials and development partners in civil registration, health, justice, planning and statistics sectors gathered to discuss these and other related issues, at the first-ever Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) in Asia and the Pacific. Convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the meeting aims to galvanize high-level political commitment to achieve universal and responsive CRVS systems in all Asian and Pacific countries by 2024.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar hailed the conference as a valuable opportunity: “If effectively implemented, the Ministerial Declaration and the Regional Action Framework can transform how we approach the improvement of civil registration and vital statistics systems,” she said, “but they require serious political commitment.”
Well-functioning civil registration systems form the basis for reliable and timely vital statistics for informed, effective and inclusive development policy planning. This includes vital statistics on demographic and health information that are important for health infrastructure and health care. Vital statistics will also be crucial to underpin monitoring and accountability for the post-2015 development agenda, an area where the United Nations regional commissions have been asked to play a central role.
In his welcoming statement, H.E. Mr. Anupong Paochinda, Minister of Interior, Thailand said: “Within the context of defining new sets of
sustainable development goals in 2015, CRVS is receiving much attention due to its strong implications for legal rights and legal identity, as well as good governance and accountability, all of which are part of the deliberations on the development agenda beyond 2015.”
Following the senior officials deliberations earlier this week, ministers the next two days will aim to set regional goals for civil registration coverage, issuance of legal documentation and production of vital statistics by 2024 underpinned by national targets, providing a
unique opportunity to agree on concrete actions to get everyone in the picture and ensure that every person in Asia and the Pacific is registered.
“The Asia-Pacific region is home to 135 million unregistered children who could be denied their basic rights to education, healthcare, social
services or future employment,” stated Daniel Toole, United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific in his
opening remarks on behalf of co-organizers. “We are determined to work together with governments and civil society to ensure universal
registration of births, deaths and other vital events in people’s lives.”
Nigel Chapman, Plan International CEO said: “Today, we recognise that CRVS has an impact on every stage of our lives and that CRVS is impossible to ignore and totally possible to achieve. We must count every man, woman, child and baby and be there with them at every stage of their lives – from birth to death – so that together we can ensure every child grows up to realise their dreams and ambitions. Now is the time to stop talking and start acting, because we have a commitment and a responsibility to get
every one in the picture by 2024.”
Over the next two days, delegates from over 40 countries in Asia and the Pacific will discuss policy priorities for improving CRVS in Asia and the Pacific, set national targets for the “Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade 2015-2024” and share their achievements, challenges and expectations for regional collaboration on CRVS.
Under the theme of ‘Get every one in the picture,’ the Conference is co-organized by ESCAP, UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, UNFPA, WHO, ADB and Plan International, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, the World Bank Group, the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, the Partnership for Statistics Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and World Vision.
The Ministerial Conference on CRVS will conclude on 28 November with the anticipated adoption of the Ministerial Declaration to ‘Get every one in the picture’ in Asia and the Pacific and a ceremony to proclaim the ‘Asian
and Pacific CRVS Decade, 2015-2024.’
For more information on the Ministerial, please visit: www.unescap.org/events/ministerial-conference-civil-registration-and-vital-statistics-asia-and-pacific