Article cites gap in reporting births of Latin youngsters

About 10 percent of children under the age of 5 in Latin America and the Caribbean are not registered, which infringes their ability to exercise their social, economic, civil and cultural rights, said a joint report last week.

An article titled “A rights-based approach to birth registration in Latin America and the Caribbean,” which is included in the latest issue of the publication Challenges, said that in total there are 6.5 million children without birth certificates in the region.

The article said that universal registration means registering all children born in a country’s territory, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, economic position, geographic origin or migration status, or their parents’ nationality.

According to the article, one of the main barriers to overcome in order to make progress in this area is the requirements that the parents must meet. For example, the mother might be required to go with the father when registering the child, or the parents might have to submit their own birth certificates or proof that they reside in a certain city or country.

The article included in the bulletin states that non-fulfillment of the right to identity and universal registration does the most harm to children in the poorest, most marginalized population segments in the region, such as indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, migrants and families living in rural, remote or border areas.

The publication said that “unfortunately, a birth certificate is still one of the main requirements for access to school, health and other social services.” It adds that “in many countries, unregistered children have access to primary school but do not receive a certification of completion and so cannot go on to secondary school.”

Challenges is a joint publication produced by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the U. N.s Children’s Fund which records the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on childhood and adolescence.

The proportion of under-5s registered in Latin America and the Caribbean went from 82 percent in 2006 to 90 percent in 2010, approaching the regional goal of complete coverage by 2015. However, the rising regional average masks wide gaps between states, provinces, municipalities and socio-economic groups within the countries, said the report.

While Chile and Cuba may be able to achieve universal birth registration very shortly, in 2010 almost 30 percent of all children in Haiti, 24 percent in Brazil and 19 percent in Nicaragua were not registered.

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