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OAS Assistant Secretary General Calls on Member States to Modernize Civil Registries

  September 29, 2010

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, called on governments in the region to make a priority the modernization of civil registries for their countries.

Speaking at a conference on “Best Practices for Civil Registration” in Grenada, Ambassador Ramdin said OAS Member States should demonstrate political commitment to the initiative, which would not only ensure proper birth registration of all citizens, but also facilitate social and electoral inclusion.

Addressing an audience which included Attorneys-General and other government officials from around the region, Ambassador Ramdin said proper identification is a fundamental right of all citizens. “Every citizen in the Member states of the OAS has the right to be socially included so that he or she can freely exercise his or her right to vote and thereby reinforce democratic governance.”

Having a modern identity document, he pointed out, serves more than an electoral purpose. “It is a document that can be used in legal matters, banking transactions, school registration, migration and healthcare issues and even taxation.”

The advances in technology and security, Ambassador Ramdin explained, also made upgrades necessary. “In this age of greater interdependence among countries and enhanced border security, the days of hand written certificates have been overtaken by new technologies such as biometric data applications and machine readable documents. Equally, it is now important for countries to invest in e-governance, to facilitate access to, and the sharing of information at a national level,” he emphasized.

The Assistant Secretary General of the hemispheric body also pointed to the value of the modernized registries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). At both national and sub regional levels, he said, CARICOM Member States need to consider ways to harmonize and update legislation. “The harmonization of institutional arrangements in the context of the ongoing integration process is a pre-requisite for the implementation of the free movement of people and the deepening of integration.”

The “Best Practices for Civil Registration” conference was hosted by the government of Grenada and organized by the OAS, in collaboration with UNFPA and UNICEF. Acting Prime Minister of Grenada Nazim Burke attended the opening ceremony.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-354/10