Press Release

An identity for world’s unregistered children a global priority

Lusaka/Geneva, 22 March 2016
Stateless refugee children © AFP Photo / Behrouz Mehri

Members of Parliament (MPs) from more than 130 countries have today called on governments to ensure the right to a legal identity is upheld for every child by removing all barriers to birth registration.

With an estimated 230 million children under five years of age unregistered at birth and one in every seven registered child not having a birth certificate, an alarming number of the world’s youngest people have no legal identity or the means of proving it.

Adopting a resolution at the 134th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, the MPs also highlighted the impact on access to education, welfare, health services and other basic rights on unregistered children. Socially marginalized, these children are even more vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labour, particularly during humanitarian crises.

The resolution identifies a series of measures that parliaments can take such as adopt laws that facilitate the issuance of birth certificates free of charge or at minimum cost. There are also calls for the implementation of mobile applications that allow authorized people to register births, for registry offices to be set up as close to people’s homes as possible, for women to be able to register children, and for registration to be digitized.

With Goal 16 of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals including a target on providing legal identity and birth registration for all by 2030, the IPU resolution is urging parliaments to promote campaigns on regularizing the status of children without a legal identity or papers.

With an estimated 60 million people in the world displaced by wars and conflicts, with numbers constantly growing, the need for effective action on the issue has become ever more pressing.

IPU has in recent years begun work with parliaments in East Africa, Latin America and South Asia to raise awareness on the importance of birth registration among MPs and to support outreach among rural communities.

The 134th IPU Assembly concludes on 23rd March.

Follow or take part in discussions on Twitter using #IPU134.

Photos of the event will be made available on Flickr.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

For further information, please contact

IPU, Jemini Pandya, Director of Communications
Tel: +41 79 217 33 74
IPU, Jean Milligan
email :

Zambian Parliament : Aaron Mwewa
Tel : +260 977 87 9719
Email :