Implemented between 2008 and 2011 by the then Human Rights Secretariat (currently the Brazilian Ministry of Human Rights), the project "Support in the formulation and monitoring of the National Program for the Universalization of Birth Records in Guinea-Bissau" aimed at strengthening the Ministry of Justice for the elaboration and execution of a national policy of coping with civil birth registration.
Guinea Bissau is one of the least developed countries and has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates of five years (88 per 1,000). With a high growth rate (about 2.5%), Guinean population is predominantly young (42% of inhabitants are under 15). The majority of the population depends on subsistence farming to ensure their livelihood and lives in areas where schools, markets and health posts are not easily accessible. The road network is very limited and electricity, which exists only in the cities, is scarce.
Civil birth registration (RCN) is a right for all children and the first step towards access to other rights and public services, and for the full exercise of citizenship. The RCN allows the State to know how many are and where the individuals were born, favoring the development of public policies to serve citizens. The provision of legal identity for all (including birth registration) by 2030 is one of the internationally agreed specific goals associated with ODS 16. Despite the importance of the CRC, only 39% of children are registered in Guinea Bissau, according to with UNICEF. Underreporting is a challenge to the protection of Guinean children, and its main causes are the concentration of registration services, the low capillarity of the registries (registry offices), the difficulty of access to services and the collection of high fees for obtaining the RCN. Several attempts to remedy the problem in the country had been undertaken by the Government, through the Ministry of Justice, without however achieving results of impact.
In 2008, the Ministry of Justice of Guinea-Bissau requested the support of the then Secretariat of Human Rights (attached to the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil) to confront the civil sub-registration of birth in your country.
In Brazil, the strategy of eradicating civil under-registration at birth allowed the under-registration index to increase from 20.9% in 2002 to 6.6% in 2010. It was based on the National Mobilization for the RCN and the National Plan for the RCN, with actions involving states and municipalities. Launched in 2004, the National Plan for RCN is based on shared management and articulation between government spheres, the legislative and judicial branches, international organizations and NGOs, and is structured around the following axes:
- Mobilization: promotion of mobilizations and mobilization campaigns, at the national, regional, state and municipal levels;
- Service network: the expansion of the offer of RCN services and basic documentation, implementation of interconnected units, improvement of the flow of information between maternities and registries;
- Structuring conditions: the creation of the National Civil Registry Information System (which modernizes, through a digital platform, the capture and processing of data) and improvement of legislation, as well monitoring and evaluation.
Considering the similarities between the Brazilian and Guinean contexts, this South-South cooperation project sought to replicate the successful Brazilian experience, adapting it to the particularities of Guinea-Bissau. The strategies adopted included, among others, the expansion of the civil registry service network (with the expansion of conservatories and the structuring of itinerant services and maternity hospitals), as well as communication and training of mobilization agents. The activities and results of the project mainly included:
- The formulation, together with the Ministry of Justice of Guinea-Bissau, of the National Program for Universalization of RCN;
- The creation of the internal regulations, instruments for cooperation and integration of actions and the plan of action of the Steering Committee of the National Program for Universalization of RCN;
- Raising the awareness of the Guinean population of the importance of civil documentation as an instrument for exercising citizenship and promoting and defending human rights; and
- The monitoring of the execution of the National Program for Universalization of the RCN.
On the Brazilian side: Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) and Ministry of Human Rights
On the Guinean side: Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Human Rights of Brazil
Ministry of Human Rights
Thiago de Almeida Garcia
Coordinator-General for the Promotion of Birth Registration, National Secretariat for Citizenship