UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
General Comment on Article 31:
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child announced in February 2011 that IPA’s request for a General Comment on article 31 had been accepted. IPA will have a central role in its development.
IPA members first discussed a General Comment on article 31 in its 2008 Council meeting in Hong Kong. An ‘action step’ to pursue this goal was approved by Council and included in IPA’s 2008 – 2011 strategic plan. IPA made the initial request to the UN Committee in May 2008.
Support of other international organizations was sought and received. IPA’s eight supporting organizations are:
Right to Play International, World Leisure Association, International Pediatrics Association, International Council on Children’s Play, World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), International Toy Library Association, the European Child Friendly Cities Network, and Child Watch International.
What will the General Comment do?
The General Comment will provide guidance to ‘States Parties’ (governments of the 192 countries which are signatories to the Convention) with regard to the provisions of the Convention in relation to play and recreation, rest and leisure, cultural life and the arts. It will raise awareness of the importance of these in the everyday lives of children worldwide.
IPA hopes to position article 31 more centrally within the fuller context of the UN Convention, illustrating the indivisibility of Convention articles, and also to put some emphasis on the role of unstructured or ‘free’ play which is facing increasing challenges.
A fundamental goal of the G.C. will be to influence States Parties to include the provisions of article 31 in their national UNCRC implementation plans, for which all signatories have an obligation to develop. IPA groups all over the world will be invaluable in making this a reality!
The General Comment on article 31 will be a useful tool in harnessing worldwide energy to promote the children’s right to play worldwide. Governments and authorities can play a key role in helping to ensure that children grow up in conditions where they can exercise their right to play and where they have adequate rest and leisure, access to recreation and to culture and the arts.
Next Steps and IPA Involvement
IPA has been asked to take a lead role in the organization of the development of this paper. The UN Committee focal group been assigned as follows:
- Awich Pollar, Chair (Uganda)
- Yanghee Lee (Korea)
- Aseil Al-Shehail (Saudi Arabia)
- Sanpharit Koompraphant (Thailand)
- Hadeel Al-Asmar (Syrian Arab Republic)
Lothar Krappman (Germany) past member of the UN Committee and strong supporter of the General Comment on article 31, will also be involved in its development.