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Carpenter on children born of wartime rape as an international 'non-issue'

Today, child soldiering has become the most prominent issue on a laundry list decried by a transnational network of activists and organizations working in the issue domain of children and armed conflict. However, the network around children and armed conflict (CaAC) does not lobby for all categories of children affected by war: until very recently the particular needs of girls and HIV-AIDS orphans were invisible on this agenda, and issues still absent from the laundry list include children born as a result of wartime rape; children in military families, and children indoctrinated by the war toy and entertainment industries in industrialized societies. Why do activists in leading transnational organizations adopt certain issues or populations of concern but not others? … In short, how do lead actors or “gatekeepers” within transnational issue spheres select causes from the endless pool of possible options? … With a team of graduate student coders, I attempted such an analysis by examining human rights advocates’ discourse about an issue that has not emerged on the transnational child rights agenda (children born of wartime rape). … my findings point to the potential importance of inter-network politics in constraining issue adoption even in such seemingly “easy” cases.

Charli Carpenter (2007), “Studying Issue (Non)-Adoption in Transnational Advocacy Networks,” International Organization 61:643-667. Available here.

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