Author: Ayush Patria
III Year | Sangam University, Bhilwara
United Nation’s Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC), adopted in 1989, is legally binding on the signatory parties. It has incorporated various provisions for the rights of the children. A child, according to UNCRC, is every human being below the age of eighteen years.
A nation’s children are a “supremely important national asset”. In other words, the future well-being of a nation depends upon how its children grow and develop. Therefore, it is the duty of the state to look after a child to ensure the full development of its personality. In this article, the author discusses the importance of UNCRC provision to guarantee the right to play and leisure.
Article 31 of UNCRC:
The four core principles of UNCRC are non-discrimination, devotion to the best interests of the child, child participation, and the right to life, survival, and development. Article 31 is an important provision that falls under the category of Development Rights. It states that children have the right “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.”
In other words, this implies that children have the right to have fun in the way they want to, in a safe and age-appropriate manner. In addition, they have the right to rest. They should also be able to take part freely in cultural activities, just like adults. Lastly, the provision obligates that the government should make sure that this right is respected, protected and fulfilled.
Explanation and Incorporation:
The right to rest in a child’s life provides an adequate respite from the exertion of any kind & ensures optimum health. Leisure includes the unobligated time that does not involve education, work, or performing other formal life-sustaining functions. Generally, leisure is the time that is discretionary as the child chooses. Consequently, recreational activities lead the children’s life in gaining satisfaction or personal or social value by accomplishing them. Generally, recreational activities include sports-games, arts-craft, pursuing hobbies, etc.
In India, the rights of every citizen of the country including the rights of the children have been provided by the Indian Constitution. Article 19(1) read with Article 21 provides that citizens have the right to a decent environment, the right to live peacefully, the right to have adequate sleep and the right to rest & leisure. These rights are also basic & necessary under the ambit of the right to life.
Importance of Right to Rest and Leisure:
Article 31 of UNCRC stresses the necessity of activities that are appropriate for the children. The above-stated experiences are necessary for the overall development of children. Similarly, it is cultural activities that lead the children to express their specific identity and create their world view. Therefore, the author believes that the State should ensure that no child is denied access to freely participate in cultural activities. Consequently, this would ensure the child’s best interest.
Playing is an integral part of childhood. Through playing & recreational activities, children also develop pliancy & flexibility, leading to physical & psychological growth. Right to rest, leisure and play must be accepted coherently for the prime development of the children. Surroundings or environment for playing also nurture the creativity of children and channelise their energy positively.
These rights lead to enhancement of creativity, self-confidence, and emotional strength and skills in children. These rights also enable children to explore and experience the world around them. Children’s spontaneous drive for development depends upon playing & recreational activities because these expedite the capacity to resolve conflicts, make decisions, and build their social position. So, without the right to leisure and play, children will lack active participation & learning.
The involvement of children in playful activities helps in inheriting the cultural life of their family through which they forge their sense of identity. Participation in cultural and recreational demonstrations helps children in developing multi-cultural understanding. This broadens their horizon and contributes towards appreciation of diversity.
Thus, like nutrition, shelter, health, education and other physiological necessities, the right to play, rest and leisure are also very important in children’s life. In conclusion, there would be an irreversible psychological & physical impact on the children’s development & health without the implementation of the rights guaranteed under Article 31. Hence, children need free time, without any work or obligation.
. Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, 1989
. Laxmikant Pandey vs. Union of India,  2 SCR 795
. Sheela Barse vs. Union of India,  AIR 1773
. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Text (January 20, 2021, 11:58AM); URL: https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/convention-text
Editor: Shivangi Banerjee