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Advocate Spotlight

March 21, 2023

Advocate Spotlight: Christian Monje

Christian Eduardo Monje is a Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Legal Consultant in Bolivia conducting a comprehensive assessment of Civil Registration, Vital Statistics and Identity Management (CRVSID) legal frameworks to highlight areas where legal reform could strengthen the CRVS and ID systems. Christian has more than 14 years of experience practicing law and works as a legal advisor to the Fundación Bolivia Saludable, closely advising on and advocating for tobacco control policies. Christian’s legal practice focuses on environmental, agricultural and family law areas with a particular interest in human rights, youth and adolescents, women empowerment and indigenous people's rights. Christian is an environmental activist and co-founder of the "Ñande Bolivia" Association.

1. What motivated you to work at the intersection of law and CRVSID?

The novelty and challenge of the legal review project in Bolivia was what motivated me the most to work on the CRVSID legal review. The project provided an opportunity for me to understand the importance of well-functioning CRVSID systems and evaluate the context in Bolivia and the strengths and weaknesses of our CRVSID systems. Our project successfully identified and engaged with national government institutions to produce duly substantiated recommendations to help strengthen the CRVSID system in Bolivia.

2. How does your legal background inform your CRVS work and why is it important to have lawyers involved in CRVS legal reform processes?

I believe legal education and training are the basis for CRVSID system improvement initiatives since a strong legal system that reflects a national-level reality reinforces public health policies that are relevant to vital events. Training lawyers on CRVSID best practices is crucial to have a well-structured legal reform process since lawyers can provide a better perspective of issues intended to be coded into law and can analyze in accordance with human rights principles, national constitution and relevant laws – without detracting from the fact that the work must be coordinated both with professionals from other branches linked to the CRVS system as well as with all interested national institutions.

3. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your work and how did it get resolved?

The first challenge I faced in this project was undergoing the comprehensive CRVSID best practices training, as the project was new for me. With the tools and support provided by GHAI’s Data for Health team, it became easier for me to learn how to conduct the legal review. The second challenge was (and continues to be) transmitting the knowledge I learned and coordinating all project activities, such as crossing information with national CRVSID institutions. The coordination, however, has led to positive outcomes.

4. What are you most excited about in your consultancy role with GHAI’s CRVS legal review project?

Knowing that Bolivia will have documented evidence of the strengths and weaknesses of the Bolivian CRVSID laws excites me the most in my role as a GHAI consultant. I am hopeful that the vital events registration in Bolivia will improve based on the recommendations from the legal review and international best practices, as well as coordination among institutions responsible for CRVSID in Bolivia.

5. What is your message to lawyers in low and middle-income countries?

We must make the most of the unconditional support that GHAI provides to our countries to improve our public health policies. We must also share with our fellow countrymen the knowledge that was provided to us to create a positive synergy that will undoubtedly generate better results at a global level, both personally and socially.