UN stands up for children’s right to play

Press release from the IPA website

1 February 2013

UN STANDS UP FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHT TO PLAY, ARTS AND LEISURE IN A LANDMARK MOMENT FOR CHILDREN

United Nations adopts in-depth interpretation of ‘forgotten’ children’s rights

GENEVA – (1 February 2013) Today the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child announced the adoption of an official document, or “General Comment” (GC), that clarifies for governments worldwide the meaning and importance of article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 31 ensures that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”

Article 31 has long been considered “the forgotten article” of the Convention. The General Comment adopted today, however, will right that wrong by clearly defining the responsibilities of governments that are implicit in the article.

The stated objectives of the General Comment are:

To enhance understanding of the importance of Article 31 for children’s well-being and development, and for the realisation of other rights in the Convention.
To provide interpretation to States parties with regard to the provisions, and consequent obligations, associated with Article 31.
To provide guidance on the legislative, judicial, administrative, social and educational measures necessary to ensure its implementation for all children without discrimination and on the basis of equality of opportunity.
The International Play Association (IPA), which since 2008 has led an international group of cosignatories to the request for a GC, has been closely involved in its development. Theresa Casey, President of IPA, warmly welcomed today’s adoption of the General Comment:

Play, recreation, rest, leisure and involvement in cultural and artistic life are all interrelated and critical to a happy, healthy childhood. Problems arise when such activities are considered luxurious or frivolous. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are all fundamental rights of children and IPA will do its best to continue supporting policy makers and practitioners who turn these rights into concrete actions. We are delighted by the Committee’s decision to emphasize the importance of Article 31 in a General Comment, and are honored to have assisted in the effort.

IPA’s work was supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

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