The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legally binding international agreement. The Convention states that children are independent individuals with rights, not the property of parents or other adults. At the same time, it is emphasized that children require adult protection and care. The Convention contains 54 articles, all of which are equally important and which together form a whole. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and became part of Swedish legislation in 2020. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is formulated so that it applies to all children in the world. It is required that each country interprets and creates case law around the articles if the writings are to have an impact and make a difference.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child can be a gateway for those planning the city. Children's rights to good places to play have so far not been an argument in debates about urban-building ideals and densification. Instead, children's need for space is often seen as a special interest that is added when other planning conditions are met. For example, traffic and parking are often given higher priority than children being given a coherent and safe road from home to school.
When planning and designing places for children, Articles 12 and 31 are of particular interest. Article 12 describes the right of children to form their own opinion, to express their opinions freely and to be listened to based on their age and maturity. Article 31 has often been called the forgotten article. It expresses the child's right to rest and leisure, to play and recreation adapted to the child's age. The child also has the right to participate in cultural and artistic life.
The government is obliged to report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva on how the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is progressing. In Sweden, the authority task lies with the Children's Representative. The Committee on the Rights of the Child also publishes so-called "general comments" to help interpret the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child says nothing about the place for play. But with the knowledge we have about the physical and mental benefits that come from staying outdoors, outdoor play environments should be a priority. It remains to be seen what support Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and General Commentary 17 can give to community planners in their work to shape child-friendly cities. Prejudicial court cases will in the future show how the child's rights to play are weighed against other interests. Playgrounds and children's needs for play are governed by several different legislations but also by governing documents at the local level.