Nach dem Gewitter: Mit Gummistiefeln in die Pfützen gehen, dann laufen, dann springen, lachen, immer schneller. Schlammbespritzt nach Hause gehen.

Right to play

Play is a basic need of children. Children have a right to play. This is regulated by Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which came into force in Germany in 1992.

Play needs no justification. Play, or more precisely outdoor play without educational guidance from adults, is a biologically innate human behavior pattern. Adults play too, but play is a central element in children’s lives.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. In the meantime, it has been ratified by almost all states in the world. It grants children their own rights over and above the Human Rights Convention. It has been valid law in Germany since 1992.

Article 31, paragraph 1 states:

States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to play and active recreation appropriate to his or her age, and to participate freely in cultural and artistic life.

Sanctions are not provided for if points of the Convention are not observed. But Germany, like all other signatory states, must submit reports on the implementation of children’s rights and take a stand on omissions.

In April 2013, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child published a General Comment on Article 31, for which the German contribution was provided by the Right to Play Alliance. The UN commentary emphasises the importance of play, including uninfluenced play, for the development of the child.  It also includes the obligation to provide conditions so that children can play on their own, without organisation by adults.

Read more: 

General comment No. 17 (2013) on the right of the child to rest, leisure, play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts (art. 31)

The realisation of the right to play in Germany is the goal of the Bündnis Recht auf Spiel. This is an alliance of organisations and individual organisations that anyone can join free of charge. The main activity is the organisation of World Play Day on 28 May each year.

The Netzwerk Kinderrechte is a federation of many clubs and associations. Its aim is to enforce the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Germany.

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