Population Registers, Ethics and Human Rights


  Tuesday 10 October 2023

 14:00-15:30 UTC                

(7:00 Los Angeles - 10:00 New York - 11:00 Rio de Janeiro
15:00 Yaoundé - 16:00 Johannesburg/Paris - 17:00 Kampala
19:30 New Delhi - 22:00 Shanghai)


Webinar description                       

Digital innovations are often promising improvements to civil registration and national identity management systems. In practice, poor design and implementation, inadequate policy and mismanagement can trigger exclusion and pose serious new risks for vulnerable subpopulations. Efforts to explore and address these ethical and human rights challenges are often siloed because of disciplinary boundaries that make it difficult to simultaneously integrate perspectives from, for example, law, public policy, demography, and public health.

Despite strong interest and activity on the part of young scholars and activists in low- and middle-income countries to study and address these issues, current global policy efforts do not prioritise opportunities for them to contribute to shaping and improving efforts in this area. Strengthening the inclusion of young researchers and practitioners from low-middle-income countries is key to improving the quality, efficacy and sustainability of interdisciplinary efforts to address the challenges of digitised population data systems.

This webinar explores how law, history and policy have shaped the inclusiveness of birth registration in South Africa, Brazil and Uganda; how the design and implementation of digitized voter registration systems in Cameroon can both be a force for inclusive and mechanism of exclusion; and how the accessibility of population register systems varies for different vulnerable subpopulations. 


The webinar showcases individual fellow research projects and a collaborative group project being undertaken through the IUSSP Initiative on Population Registers, Ethics and Human Rights. This initiative infuses interdisciplinary perspectives, drawing on perspectives from law, history, economics, public policy, demography, and public health, to address the ethical and human rights challenges that are emerging as population register systems are rapidly digitised. 


The webinar begins with a brief overview of this initiative, followed by lightning talks from three IUSSP Population, Ethics and Human Rights Fellows, and a brief overview of the group project. This webinar focuses on the promises and perils of digitised population registers in settings as diverse as Brazil, Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa, posing questions, offering insights and advancing scholar-practitioner debate. This webinar is co-hosted by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, the UNFPA Centre of Excellence for CRVS Systems and the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Population Registers, Ethics and Human Rights.


For more information on this initiative, read the newly released working paper: Rights and Ethics in Biometric Population Registration : Mapping the limits of digital recognition and the drivers of exclusion





Elizabeth Atori                        
Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda


Romesh Silva                          
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)                      
Chair of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Population Registers, Ethics and Human Rights


Janaina Costa                           
IUSSP Fellow (Brazil)


Georges Eyenga                  
IUSSP Fellow (Cameroon)


Elizabeth Nansubuga                        
IUSSP Fellow (Uganda)



Sofia Gruskin                       
Institute on Inequalities in Global Health (IIGH)                
University of Southern California, United States


Jonathan Klaaren                       
Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa



Montasser Kamal                          
International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada