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Opening remarks by Mr Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator at the Launch of CRVS National Action Plan for the period 2017-2021

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Event: Launch of CRVS National Action Plan for the period 2017-2021

Date: June 16, 2017

Venue: La Thanh Guest House, 218 Doi Can St., Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Viet Nam

  • Excellency Mr. Le Thanh Long, Minister of Justice;
  • Excellency Mr. Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Vice Minister of Justice;
  • Representatives from line Ministries and provinces;
  • Colleagues from development partners, international financial institutions, UN agencies, mass organizations and media agencies;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;

At the outset I would like to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam for the development of its first ever National Action Plan on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) for the period 2017-2021.

A functional civil registration and vital statistics system is the best source of timely, complete and continuous data on key statistics on the population including how many babies are born, how many people die, and what people are dying from.

Until we know, with certainty, how many people live in a country, when they are born, where they live, how large their households and families are, and when and why they die, they remain effectively invisible to decision makers. Accurate and complete vital statistics – derived from civil registration records – are critical to developing national and local policies and measuring development outcomes.

Civil Registration also provides evidence of people's names, family relationships, the number of births and causes of deaths of different population groups. This is important for social protection, enabling participation in economic and political life, and for accessing services like healthcare and education.

Civil Registration is about acknowledging invisible lives and recognizing those who remain outside the picture painted by official statistics. As such, Civil Registration aims to implement the SDG vision of 'leaving no-one behind' and is critical to Viet Nam's progress towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

More than a quarter, 45 to be precise, of the 169 SDG targets will require data from the CRVS system, primarily in the form of population data as denominators for population-based targets. This remains a challenge since it is estimated that at least 135 million children in Asia and the Pacific are not officially registered or counted – with some countries in the region registering and indicating fewer than one in every ten children under the age of five.

Similarly, up to nine in ten of all global deaths are estimated to either not be registered or are inaccurately certified.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

The United Nations in Viet Nam has been supporting the development of Viet Nam's Civil Registration and Vital Statistics for over a decade in a number of ways. Technical support has been provided for the revision of laws, circulars, as well as birth registration and cause-of-death registration, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, migrants, ethnic minorities and people living with disabilities.

Most recently, WHO with the support of UNFPA and UNICEF provided support to the Government of Viet Nam in developing the action plan we are launching today. The UN Agencies also facilitated the participation of Viet Nam in international meetings and forums on CRVS.

With the action plan in hand, Viet Nam now has a strategy to build a well-functioning CRVS system and to meet the commitment it made during the 2014 Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on CRVS. This includes setting national targets under the Regional Action Framework and working towards achieving these targets over the Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade by 2024.

Viet Nam must make sure its CRVS system is used to provide information and evidence for the formulation and implementation of policies across the country in the areas of health, social protection, education, population and human rights.

The realization of the shared vision to get everyone in the picture will depend, however, on coordinated and concerted efforts to develop and enhance the capacities of the government of Viet Nam in achieving three key goals, notably:

a. Universal registration in all 63 provinces;

b. Full legal documentation; and

c. Comprehensive vital statistics based on civil registrations.

These action areas must serve as a basis for the Government of Viet Nam and development partners to focus and organize efforts towards implementing and supporting the comprehensive multi-sectoral national CRVS action plan, including delineating the responsibilities of involved stakeholders.

I am pleased to learn that the first meeting of the National Steering Committee will be held this afternoon. It demonstrates Viet Nam's political commitment and the will of different actors to coordinate policies and legislation across different line ministries.

The National Steering Committee is a vital body for the implementation of the Action Plan. The committee must build bridges across line ministries, provide guidance and oversight and advocate for sustainable investments in civil registration and vital statistics.

While the UN is committed to helping Viet Nam to bring together all partners at national, provincial and communal level, we wish to propose a joint working session of the National Steering Committee and the United Nations in Viet Nam in the short run in order to better coordinate both our actions and technical support to different stakeholders.

In closing, I wish to emphasize that while we are talking about developing vital statistics, we must never forget that behind every number is a person who defines our common humanity and deserves our compassion.

The United Nations in Viet Nam stands ready to work closely together with different line ministries to implement the comprehensive, multi-sectoral national CRVS strategy.