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28 November 2023 | Event
Updated Bali Process Toolkit highlights the role inclusive civil registration can play in addressing irregular migration risks

The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO), together with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific launched the  Bali Process Toolkit for Inclusive Civil Registration, building on efforts to support governments to address civil registration gaps—which pose an acknowledged risk factor for trafficking in persons, people smuggling and irregular migration.

Inclusive civil registration is fundamental to providing identity and basic protection for individuals, while it provides governments with robust and accurate data on the populations under their care. Providing a legal identity to hard-to-reach and marginalised groups contributes to equitable access to basic resources and supports and improves stability for these communities.

Without legal identity documents, a person cannot travel using regular channels or generally, access basic protection and services. Greater security and legal identity help to mitigate against irregular migration and deter against the exploitation of migrants.

The Bali Process Toolkit for Inclusive Civil Registration highlights how it can be used by governments to assess civil registration systems to understand the inclusivity of hard-to-reach and marginalised populations—including people living in rural, remote, isolated or border areas; minorities; indigenous people; migrants; non-citizens; asylum seekers; refugees; stateless people; and people without documentation.

The RSO welcomes interest from Bali Process Member governments who are considering exploring recommendations or suggested practices from the Toolkit.

Displaced and vulnerable populations at risk

Across the Bali Process region, displaced and vulnerable populations continue to rise as a result of natural and humanitarian disasters, armed conflict, and economic hardships—pushing people to seek a better life through unsafe land and maritime movements. In recent weeks, some 1,100 Rohingya have made the dangerous crossing from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in Southeastern Bangladesh to Aceh in Northern Indonesia. Some 374,000 Afghans living in Pakistan have so far returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, following a change in policy announced in October 2023 around undocumented foreigners.

In 2021 UNICEF recorded that worldwide, there are 167 million children under the age of 5 whose births remain unregistered. Of this number, some 39 per cent—equating to 65 million unregistered children—are in Asia and the Pacific.

Supporting an inclusive civil registration approach

Panellists at the launch event for the Bali Process  Toolkit for Inclusive Civil Registration included Dr Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Matthias Reuss, Senior Statelessness Officer at UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Tanja Brøndsted Sejersen, Statistician and Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Lead at United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP), and Subin Mulmi, Executive Director at Nationality for All shared their insights and perspectives on civil registration in the context of addressing the issue of irregular migration and migration management.

Kanteera Techaphattanakul, a Medical Technologist and Miss Universe Chiang Mai for Thailand, spoke to the lived experiences of stateless communities in Thailand, and her experiences as a formerly stateless individual:

“I was born in Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand. Because my mother hadn’t registered my birth and didn’t have a birth certificate, I was considered stateless. Although being stateless didn’t affect me until I finished high school, there was an evident effect on my application for scholarships, universities and travel opportunities. We do not want Thai nationality just to be considered ‘Thai’ but it is an essential step along the way of pursuing our dreams.”

Attendees represented Bali Process Member and Observer States, academia, and international organisations and NGOs including UNHCR regional and country offices, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union Delegation to Thailand, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) regional and country offices and civil society.

Bali Process Civil Registration Assessment Toolkit Pilot

The Bali Process Civil Registration Assessment Toolkit was developed by the RSO and UNHCR following the Sixth Bali Process Ministerial Conference in 2016 when members highlighted the significance of comprehensive civil registration and vital statistics collection for providing identity and basic protection to individuals, while also recognising its role in tracking migration flows.

The Toolkit was piloted by the governments of Pakistan, Thailand, and Viet Nam over 2019 – 2022, and highlighted the need to re-brand the Toolkit to emphasise its applicability for assessments among hard-to-reach and marginalised populations.

Subsequent Ministerial Conferences in 2018 and 2023 urged Bali Process members to further support civil registration initiatives.

Devmi Dampella, RSO Programme Manager for Irregular Migration and Regional Priorities said: “Addressing inequalities in national civil registration systems is essential to provide an identity and basic protection to all individuals within a jurisdiction. For a State, having a comprehensive and inclusive civil registration system will facilitate the collection of more accurate data and information about its migration flows contributing to enhanced security, and law and order. The RSO will continue to engage with the Bali Process and its Working Groups, supporting the implementation of the Bali Process Toolkit for Inclusive Civil Registration. The RSO intends to design agile and responsive initiatives promoting the provision of a legal identity for all, in line with Target 16.9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Should you require any additional information about this event or the implementation of the Toolkit, please do not hesitate to email: You can also reach out to Devmi Dampella, RSO Programme Manager, Irregular Migration and Regional Priorities at or Florentina Tudose, RSO Programme Officer, Irregular Migration and Regional Priorities at