The Civil Registry: A Neglected Dimension of International Development

May 2013
The right to a name and nationality is not only one of the most fundamental human rights but also a requirement to access to basic and essential services such as health and education. This right is exercised through an effective and universal civil registration. It also allows for reliable vital statistics and higher levels of transparency and efficacy that provides the foundation for inclusive public policies, especially social programs. Thus civil registry, legal identity and identity management (Id-M) are central elements for social and economic development.

On the international stage, the creation and dissemination of knowledge around the civil registration and legal identity field has evolved from a single paper produced by UNICEF in 2000, to several knowledge sharing initiatives where the IDB has played a pivotal role. The launching of a webpage ( in 2011 that provides access to all IDB publications and projects on the topic is just one example of it. Birth under-registration rates has dropped from 18 percent to 9 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) since the IDB, through its legal identity and registry team took on the topic in 2002 . Though the Bank cannot claim the exclusive credit for this achievement, the fact that a development bank took on the issue is of major consequence.