Ukraine’s Male Travel Ban and the Protection of Civilians in Wartime

War, by definition, takes terrible tolls on civilian populations. Just what risks a given person faces depends on many factors, including gender, class and geography. While international law has evolved to protect both civilians and combatants at war, it is not always followed, to say the least, and governments often fail to adequately protect even their own civilian population. In Ukraine, the government's decision to ban most men aged eighteen to 60 from leaving the country has had unexpected effects on Ukrainians, both men and women. 

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Charli Carpenter, director of the Human Security Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, about the protection of civilians in wartime, the gendered effects of conflict and how all of this is playing out in Ukraine. They discuss misconceptions about conflict and gender and the role of international law in protecting civilians. They delve into the Human Security Lab’s latest research on the perception and effects of Ukraine’s male travel ban and what both the Ukrainian government and its international partners can do to mitigate its unintended humanitarian and strategic consequences. Finally, they address how international law might evolve and how to bring governments to better adhere to them. 

Make sure to check out Human Security Lab’s latest report, “Protecting Civilian Men's Right to Flee the Ukraine War: Strategic and Humanitarian Impacts”. For more of Crisis Group’s analysis on the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Ukraine country page and our Gender and Conflict page.

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