UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force


It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people in the world do not possess proof of legal identity, and thus cannot prove who they are. These figures include approximately 166 million children under 5 whose birth has not been registered, and 237 million children without a birth certificate. Those without legal identity face multifaceted challenges, which can include: i) lack of access to public services and exclusion from large part of the private economy; ii) inability to exercise political rights such as the right to vote; iii) risk of exploitation from criminal enterprises, and; iv) vulnerability, as either refugees or stateless persons, before host country authorities.

The 2030 Agenda recognized the enormous gap in identity coverage and included, as Target 16.9 of the SDGs, a commitment to provide "legal identity for all (including birth registration) by 2030." Inspired by the Secretary-General's determination to tackle the global problem of statelessness (affecting more than 10 million people worldwide), but also noting the wider (and larger) issue of lack of legal identity, the Secretary-General's Executive Committee, in January 2018, mandated the Deputy Secretary-General to convene "UN entities to develop, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, a common approach to the broader issue of registration and legal identity...". To operationalize the decision of the Executive Committee, an inter-agency coordination mechanism — the UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force (UNLIA TF) — was established from September 2018, where 13 UN agencies, under the chairmanship of UNDP, UNICEF and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, are working together to try to assist Member States achieve SDG target 16.9.

Currently, the UNLIA TF is co-chaired by three directors — Mr. Stefan Schweinfest, DESA, Mr. Cornelius Williams, UNICEF and Ms. Sarah Lister, UNDP.


UN LIA TF aims to support Member States to develop a legal identity system that ensures universal civil registration of all vital events, translated into regular, reliable and comprehensive vital statistics, resulting in legal identity for all.

By coordinating 13 UN agencies working around legal identity issues, the UN LIA TF supports country implementation of UN LIA by providing technical and financial support to the UNCTs in respective countries. Also, the UN LIA tackles a number of global policy issues that require intensive work in terms of developing international standards, such as digital identity, use and scale of biometrics, content of identity credentials, and, most critically, confidentiality and privacy of individual information.

The group defines the annual work plan every year since 2018 and member agencies implement the AWP collaboratively.


UN LIA TF is co-chaired by DESA, UNDP and UNICEF and composed of 13 UN agencies who are active in the role of legal identity, civil registration and vital statistics

Agency Website Link
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs UNDESA website
The United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF website
United Nations Development Programme UNDP website
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa UNECA website
World Food Programme WFP website
United Nations Population Fund UNFPA website
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR website
International Organization for Migration IOM website
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR website
UN Women website
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific UNESCAP website
World Health Organization WHO website
UN Global Pulse website


UNLIA TF meets bimonthly to regularly update its progress towards annual work plan. As its mandate, the UN LIA would:

  • i) Oversee the implementation of the UN LIA at the regional and national level.
  • ii) Develop and maintain normative work related to UN LIA (with DESA leading as focal point).
  • iii) Fully engage in fund raising, advocacy and communication.
  • iv) Convoke UN System-wide meetings to advance the implementation of UN LIA.
  • v) Brief DSG and other senior UN principals as required (including the Strategic Results Group on SDG Implementation) on latest developments in the implementation.
  • vi) Support the DSG in her role as co-chair of the WBG ID4D programme.