Article 31

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – Article 31

“States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.” (UNCRC, 1989)

The child’s right to play, culture, leisure and rest is recognised in article 31of the UNCRC. It is often described as the article that most wholly represents the child’s right to be a child. The importance of play in children’s day to day lives for their health and well-being is increasingly recognised in a range of policies affecting children. Despite this, article 31 is also described as one of the forgotten articles of the convention.

General Comment on Article 31

From 2008 IPA worked closely with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to produce a General Comment on article 31 to enhance understanding of the importance of article 31 for children’s well-being and development worldwide. The UN General Comment on article 31 was adopted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Friday 1st February 2013.

The General Comment is an official document that clarifies for governments worldwide the meaning and importance of article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and clearly defines the responsibilities of governments that are implicit in the article.

The stated objectives of the General Comment are:

a) 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.

b)To provide interpretation to States parties with regard to the provisions and consequent obligations, associated with Article 31.

c) 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.

A Richer Understanding Group of Article 31

In December 2011 IPA Scotland took the lead on setting up a steering group to promote, and to support information dissemination about, the General Comment on article 31 in Scotland. The group comprised organizations and individuals from across the play, arts, childcare, children’s rights and youth services sectors in Scotland: IPA Scotland, Scottish Out of School Care Network, Together (SACR), GlasgowLife, Creative Scotland and Youthlink.

The purpose of the group was to promote the General Comment across sectors, not just within the play sector, and to ensure that organizations and individuals were working together towards this common goal by sharing information and ideas.

The group disseminated information and factsheets about General Comments and this general comment in particular, supported discussions and hosted a successful conference in March 2013 to celebrate the launch of the general comment.

For further information and resources about article 31 and the General Comment, visit: