In This Review

Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond
Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond
By Charli Carpenter
Columbia University Press, 2010, 304 pp
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By one estimate, today there are a half million children whose mothers were raped or exploited during war -- many of them, Carpenter asserts, scorned or otherwise scarred. Yet for all the work being done by NGOs and other groups to defend against the abuse of these mothers’ human rights around the world, their offspring comprise a group that has slipped through the cracks. Carpenter, who admits to being emotionally engaged in the subject, wonders why the neglect exists. So rather than simply assemble the data or tell the children’s stories in the case she examines, the Bosnian war, she details how humanitarian advocacy groups set priorities that lead to strategic choices and practical agendas that overlook -- indeed, at times, consciously ignore these half million children. While she loosely associates her study with a constructivist approach from academic international relations theory, Carpenter has written a building-block-level study -- that is, an ambitious exploration of the factors shaping the preferences of the human-rights and child-protection agencies that should be attending to the problem but are not.