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UNICEF Associate Director and Global Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams joins ID4Africa Board


ID4Africa has officially announced the addition of UNICEF Associate Director and Global Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams to its Board of Advisors.

Williams, a national of Sierra Leone, is a veteran advocate of humanitarian causes and child protection, with more than 25 years of experience managing child protection programs in Western, Eastern, and Southern Africa with UNICEF and Save the Children. His involvement places additional emphasis on the importance of establishing legal identity at its source with birth registration, and integrating that identity into foundational identity schemes.

“We are excited that Mr. Williams is joining us at this juncture in time. Civil registration and identification of children must be front and center to any identity development agenda, and there is no organization better than UNICEF to accompany us to ensure that this is the case in the emerging identity ecosystems we are promoting in Africa,” comments ID4Africa Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph J. Atick.

ID4Africa is the “ID-4-All” movement in support of the adoption of robust and responsible identity systems in the service of development. Williams joins World Bank Global Thematic Group Leader Robert Palacios, UNDP Lead Electoral Advisor Niall McCann, African Development Bank Senior ICT Officer Samatar Omar Elmi, and Center for Global Development Senior Fellow Alan Gelb on the ID4Africa Board.

“In joining the Board I see my role as one that will ensure that children in Africa are central to the ID4Africa agenda,” Williams says. “My commitment is to see every child in every African nation receive their fundamental right to have a legal identity from birth. A birth certificate – as proof of legal identity – is critical to ensuring that children are recognized before the law and can exercise their rights. This ensures that children can access basic social services such as health, education and social assistance and that they are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation.”

“Over the years I have witnessed the positive difference partnerships with the private sector have on progressing functional identity systems,” he continues. “While some African nations are seeing the success of such partnerships, there are still others for which engagement with the private sector is still quite new and are yet to see the benefits. This is where the tripartite platform that ID4Africa provides—whereby governments, development agencies and the private sector engage together—will help to bridge that gap in a sustainable way. There is no other forum to-date that has quite achieved this particular structure, and I’m excited to see the impact of this approach.”

Dr. Atick underlined that the Board of Advisors is not figurative. “It is made up of individuals who are passionate about the identity cause and who represent organizations that are at the forefront of the development agenda,” he notes. “They provide active guidance to the Movement and ensure that we are in sync with their institutions. It is truly an honor and privilege to work with such illustrious and passionate individuals.” He continued, “I am looking forward to working with the expanded Board and to engaging with Cornelius to ensure that our actions are consistent with the principle and mandate, championed by Cornelius and UNICEF, of ‘for every child’.”

ID4Africa marked a series of new initiatives and positive developments in its latest annual report.

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