Developing a Framework for the Implementation of the Right to Play

A twelve month project funded by the University of Oxford's John Fell Fund, August 2023 to July 2024.

Children have a legal right to play, as provided in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, its scope and content, and the measures required for implementing the right remains in need of research. This project will work with children of all ages to investigate their understandings of their right to play and the factors and contexts needed for the implementation of this right. This project will be novel in directly engaging children of all ages as vital contributors on the topic of play, and particularly adolescents; moving beyond previous common practice concentrating on young children's play.

The project builds upon an existing analysis of the right to play (Lott, 2020) and research on the law's understanding of childhood as a distinct time in the life course (Herring, 2022). The project will inform the development of a framework for implementing the right to play, a tool that can be used by multiple stakeholders for the realisation of this right (policy actors, lawyers, NGOs, schools, healthcare professionals, children). In so doing, it will translate the law into a format accessible to numerous communities. A framework for implementing the right to play has the potential to impact policy on education and schooling practices, urban planning, and legal education, at a global level. Through engaging with children in the interpretation and development of the law, this project also contributes to the realisation of their right to be heard in all matters affecting them (Article 12 UNCRC). The proposed project thus aims to ensure the development of a framework that is both academically robust and rights respecting.

The project will lead to future research a) expanding this project to include participation with children from across the globe and a greater focus and inclusion of marginalised groups (refugee, street, and disabled children), and b) exploring the obligations of the state in guiding parents in their childrearing duties.