The right to identity
Understanding Children’s Right to Identity
From birth, each individual has the right to have an identity. The identity of an individual is the assertion of his or her existence in a society. It is also a matter of recognition of their individuality and what differentiates them from their peers.
The right for each child to have an identity
Having an identity is a fundamental human right which allows each individual the ability to enjoy all of their rights.
Identity encompasses the family name, the surname, date of birth, gender and nationality of the individual. Through these details, an individual will hold rights and obligations specific to their status (woman, man, child, handicapped, refugee, etc.).
The right to a name and a surname
From birth, each individual has the right to have a name and a surname. Parents have the duty to declare the name, the surname and date of birth of a new born to authorities in charge.
By recording this birth, the State officially recognizes the existence of the child and formalizes their status in the eyes of the law. In addition, through this name and recording on the Registration of Births and Deaths, the child will be able to establish filiations, it is to say links of blood relations linking him to his father and mother.
Right to a nationality
From birth, the child also has the right to a nationality.
Nationality can be obtained in two different ways:
• Jus sanguinis (By blood) : the child will have the same nationality as his parents.
• Jus soli (By birth) : The child will have the nationality of the territory on which he was born, even if his parents have a different nationality.
Nationality is confirmed through the issuing of a birth certificate. It is an important aspect of a person’s life, for it is an attribute of citizenship. Nationality allows establishment of the affiliation for an individual to a nation.
Identity integrates any child into a society
Identity allows any child to benefit from essential social services
Recording the birth of a child and the attribution of their nationality provides them with judicial capacities. This means that, just like any other individual, they will be officially recognized as a member of society and will hold its rights and obligations.
Thus, they will be granted access to different services that they need to construct their life and their future. Notably, they will be able to access healthcare adapted to their age and health status. The child will be able to go to school as well as integrating into a class of their level.
Identity provides a judicial protection adapted to each child
This identity will also allow them to benefit from judicial protection via their parents and the State. They will then be able to benefit from minors’ protection programs of the country that will especially protect them from several forms of maltreatment and exploitation.
Furthermore, the delinquent child will benefit from the program of minors’ sentences, which is a program adapted to their age, their maturity and their awareness. Thus, they will not face specific sentences, judged too cruel or disproportionate for their age (for instance: the death penalty).
Conversely, a child without an identity will be invisible in eyes of society and will not benefit from protection and social services essential to their development.
Find out More!
- The right to Identity around the world
- Stateless and invisible children
- Other fundamental rights
- Unicef, Birth registration