Faculty of Law

The global politics of northern European systems of population registration - A Bhalisa symposium

Global politics on population registration.

Main content

Over the last decade many countries around the world have begun to adopt the systems of comprehensive population registration that are common in northern Europe. The Indian Aadhaar project is the best known of these very large new identification databases, but similar systems have been announced in countries like Uganda and Tanzania. With the encouragement of donors, global technology firms, financial and tax regulations, and new models of digital welfare, something like a global movement towards systematic, computerised population registration is now well underway.

In this symposium we seek to assess the development, benefits, risks and futures of northern European models of civil registration and population registration in different national and socioeconomic contexts, and across international borders and to compare these models with the current experiences being promoted in developing countries. We aim to understand how the different models enhance inclusion or, on the contrary, exacerbate patterns of exclusion of particularly vulnerable categories of populations e.g. refugees, migrants, and the stateless.

Presentations will cover the following topics:

Institutional design

  • the routes to achieving universal registration of civil status events and comprehensive population registries;
  • the role of non-state identity providers, including the links between bank account information and national identification programmes;
  • Widespread sharing of data among government institutions for the purposes of identification of individuals, the provision of social services, and the compilation of national statistics;
  • the development of eID, and the new challenges of identity theft;
  • the potential incorporation of biometrics into existing systems;
  • the evolution of privacy law, institutions and regulatory capacity applied to these problems;
  • the development of systems of tax visibility and accounting.

Challenges of inclusion and exclusion

  • the complexity of incorporating vulnerable groups into identification systems;
  • the mechanisms to integrate immigrant and refugee populations into the national population register;
  • the consequences of deploying technologies of biometric identification in the management of migration and refugee status;
  • the impact of legal frameworks and the institutional design of identification and civil registration systems for access to citizenship and nationality.

For more information, please contact Jessica Schultz at jessica.schultz@uib.no