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Children, Young People and Families, Education and Training

Children’s right to play

The paper focused on the importance of play, barriers to play, and stated our position, which was drawn from concerns about diminishing opportunities for play in the lives of child

21 April 2021

Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989) states the right of all children to have rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities and to participate in cultural life and the arts. However, concerns that the obligations to uphold article 31 rights were not being addressed by governments (David, 2006) prompted advocacy by the International Play Association (IPA, 2010). Ultimately this led to the publication of General comment No. 17 (the child’s right to play, leisure and recreation [UNCRC, 2013]) which elaborates on the right of every child to play, as well as identifying at risk groups, including girls, children living in poverty, children with disabilities, and children from indigenous or minority communities (pp.15–16).

The General comment defines play as behaviour initiated, controlled and structured by children, as non-compulsory, driven by intrinsic motivation, not a means to an end and that it has key characteristics of fun, uncertainty, challenge, flexibility and non-productivity (UNCRC, 2013, pp.5–6).

Download the position paper