Abstract: »Menschenrechte der Kinder des Krieges: Fallstudien vergangener und gegenwärtiger Konflikte«. This paper addresses the human rights of ‘children born of war’ as measured against the standards formulated in the Convention of the Right of the Child. Taking five 20th century cases studies which cover different conflict and post-conflict situations in diverse geographical regions, the paper concludes despite greater awareness of children’s rights as evident in their codification throughout the 20th century, there has been no noticeable improvement in the application of these rights to children born of war. Keywords: children born of war, children of occupation, war children, human rights, Convention on the rights of the child, child soldiers, 20th century conflicts.
Children born of war are children fathered by foreign soldiers and local women. There have always been children born as a consequence of consensual relationship or sexual violence where the father has been a member of an enemy, allied or peacekeeping force and the mother a local citizen. Thousands of children are believed to have been fathered by French and British soldiers in Germany during the First World War (Hirschfeld 1934, 236). An estimated 10.000 to 12.000 children fathered by German soldiers were born to Norwegian mothers during the Second World War (Olsen 1998, 48) and the number of German-fathered children of French mothers is believed to be as high as 120,000-200,000 (Virgili 2005, 144). An estimated 30,000 children were born of unions between Canadian service men and women in Britain and the rest of Europe between 1940 and 1946 (22.000 in Britain, around 6000 in the Netherlands and around 1000 in other European countries) (Rains et al. 2006, 16). 40,000 children were born of American GIs and local Vietnamese women, generally biracial and many of mixed black/Asian descent (Grieg 2001, 8). More recently, conflicts in East Timor, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are believed to
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Historical Social Research, Vol. 35 — 2010 — No. 3, 268-298
have led to the birth of thousands of children conceived of liaisons between military personnel and local women (Grieg 2001, 114f.). The Balkan War of the 1990s with its Serb ‘rape camps’ and the use of sexual violence as a means of ethnically motivated warfare demonstrates a new dimension of the phenomenon of Children Born of War. The purpose of the race camps was to clean Bosnia ethnically by impregnating Bosnian women by force and thereby creating a generation of war children who themselves were assuming a function within the war itself. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 50.000 women experienced sexual violence, that about four thousand women became pregnant and that about half of these pregnancies resulted in children being born (Grieg 2001, 48; Daniel-Wrabetz 2007, 23). Sexual violence was also a feature of some of the race-related conflicts in Africa. Rwanda and Congo are two such widely-publicised examples (see for example Weitsman 2008; Harvard Humanitarian Initiative 2009 and 2010). Less well reported but equally pressing is the case of children born by abducted female child soldiers in Northern Uganda. These girls had to serve as wives and sex slaves to the rebel leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and more than thousand children were born in the enclaves of the LRA from 1990 until 2003 (Apio 2008, 3ff.). The examples illustrate that the existence of children born of war is widespread and not restricted to a...