Other Peoples’ Children


The 1948 Genocide Convention, Article 2(e) declares that the forcible transfer of children from a protected group to another group is an act that amounts to genocide when it is conducted “with intent to destroy” the group, “as such,” at least “in part.” Although listed co-equally with mass killing and forced sterilizations, and despite what appear to be repeated violations, this provision has received little attention. This Article lays out the prima facie elements that must be satisfied to bring a claim of genocidal forcible child transfer. It asserts that a perpetrator’s mixed intents or benevolent motivations toward the individual children involved will not absolve the perpetrator when forcible child transfers amount to genocide. This Article also places Article 2(e) in historical context by considering the factors that led to its inclusion in the Genocide Convention, and contextualizes 2(e) within the emerging international case law on genocide. In addition, by fully developing the arguments around Article 2(e), this Article broadens current conceptions of genocide. In particular, it challenges current doctrine, which limits culpability to purely physical and biological destruction, by exploring the manner in which forcible child transfer has cultural effects that destroy protected groups. Finally, this Article highlights several programs, including the American Indian boarding school program and Australia’s Aboriginal removal programs, and argues that these could be considered genocide.