Everyone, whether adult or child, has the right to adequate time for rest and for the pursuit of leisure activity.
For those engaged in remunerated work, Article 1 requires recognition of the right to reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays. Securing these rights generally requires national/ provincial legislation.
Article 1 also applies to those engaged in unpaid labour, for example domestic care-givers.
Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community.
Culture is viewed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as including: ‘music and song, ceremonies, sport and games, natural and man-made environments’ and ‘the arts, customs and traditions through which individuals, groups of individuals and communities express their humanity and the meaning they give to their existence’. These activities depend on the provision of: ‘libraries, museums, theatres, cinemas and sports stadiums; literature, including folklore, and the arts in all forms; the shared open spaces essential to cultural interaction, such as parks, squares, avenues and streets; nature’s gifts, such as seas, lakes, rivers, mountains, forests and nature reserves, including the flora and fauna found there’.[i]
Participation in social and cultural activities includes engagement as: an active participant, a learner, a spectator or audience member or an unpaid volunteer.
Leisure is also a medium through which other rights and related benefits set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and associated covenants can be exercised, including: the physical, mental, emotional and social development of the child through play; support for family life; personal expression and development; sustaining of cultural life of the community; and promotion of physical and mental health and well-being through sport, physical activity and cultural engagement. Conversely, denial of time for beneficial leisure activity can have serious consequences for the well-being of individuals and societies.
These rights should therefore be observed and supported by all of society’s institutions, including commercial organisations, education institutions, professional bodies and non-government organisations. Governments at national, regional/provincial and local levels have particular responsibilities reflecting commitments under United Nations treaties and, in some cases, provisions in national constitutions and legislation.
Recognising that governments at all levels are not the only providers of facilities and services for leisure and that they face many challenges and competing demands for resources, they nevertheless have particular responsibilities to:
ensure availability and protection of land for open space for recreation in residential areas;
ensure preservation of, and public access to, natural and culture heritage;
ensure the provision of suitable space and facilities for children’s play;
support provision of health-enhancing amenities, such as facilities for sport and exercise;
support cultural institutions and activities;
ensure that all members of the community, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, ability or income, have access to beneficial leisure facilities and services;
support suitable training of a technical and professional work force for the leisure/ sport/cultural service industries;
support research on the benefits and costs of leisure activity and on the provision of leisure facilities and services;
include recognition of leisure-related rights in relevant national/provincial legislation and regulations, including those concerned with regulation of mass communications and digital media;
recognise, in national, regional and urban policies and plans, the contribution which leisure-related provisions can make to personal, social, cultural and economic development;
support other human rights which facilitate the participation in the cultural life of the community, including the right to food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services and security, as set out in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
[i] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2009). Guidelines on Treaty-specific Documents to be Submitted by States Parties Under Articles 16 and 17 of the ICESCR. Document E/C.12/2008/2. New York: UN, pp. 4-5.
World Leisure Organization is a non-profit organization registered in New York.