The child’s right to play, leisure and recreation is set out in article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). While the Consultations described in this document acknowledged the importance, and overlap, of each of these elements, an emphasis was placed on the right to play as it is one of the least known, least understood, least recognised rights of children and consequently one of the most consistently ignored, undervalued and violated of children’s rights in the world today.

Early in 2008 the International Play Association: Promoting the Child’s Right to Play (IPA) entered a partnership with seven other international organisations to propose that the UNCRC organise a Day of Discussion and/or develop a General Comment on article 31 for the purpose of elaborating on its meaning and increasing state accountability with regard to compliance. The supporting organisations (now eight) are:

  • ChildWatch International
  • European Child Friendly Cities Network
  • International Council on Children’s Play
  • International Paediatrics Association
  • International Toy Library Association
  • Right to Play International
  • World Leisure Association
  • World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP).

In order to maintain the momentum and to gather material worldwide IPA and its partners organised the Global Consultations on Children’s Right to Play.

Three specific objectives were set:

  • To mobilise a worldwide network of article 31 advocates and to harness expertise to raise awareness of the importance of play in the lives of children.
  • To gather specific material demonstrating the infringement of the child’s right to play.
  • To formulate practical recommendations for governments with regard to compliance with article 31.

Working with regional and national partners, IPA identified eight Consultation sites worldwide: Bangkok, Beirut, Johannesburg,Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Sofia and Tokyo. Following a careful planning and preparation process, consultations were held in these cities between January and June 2010.