Department of Effective Public Management
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Universal Civil Identity Project of the Americas (PUICA)

Civil Identity


Why is civil identity essential?

According to 2016 UNICEF data, 3.2 million or 6% of children in Latin America and the Caribbean did not have a birth certificate. As for the adult population, there is no accurate data on the number of people who were never registered and percentages vary significantly across countries, as well as between different areas within countries.

Under-registration affects predominantly people in rural areas and in marginalized urban areas, people from minority ethnic groups, children living in poor households and children whose mothers have little or no formal education. 

Under-registration means that the government is not aware of the existence of a person. Therefore, these unregistered children and adults may be denied access to a whole range of services and rights that would otherwise be guaranteed.

Civil identity is indispensable for the exercise of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as to enforce the rights to nationality, name, legal personality and family ties. At the same time, civil identity is of vital importance for the strengthening of democratic governance, since it allows citizens to exercise political rights such as the right to vote.

A universal civil registry is also the foundation for States to have accurate information on their population, which is essential for the development of social and economic plans and policies.