hero image
Charli Carpenter - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Charli Carpenter

Professor of Political Science and Director of Human Security Lab | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Charli Carpenter's teaching and research interests include the protection of civilians, laws of war and humanitarian affairs.

Expertise (5)

International Relations

World Politics

Children Born of War

Global Issue Networks

Laws of War


Charli Carpenter's teaching and research interests include the politics of war law, transnational advocacy networks, protection of civilians, humanitarian disarmament and the role of popular culture in global human security policy.

She has a particular interest in the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Carpenter has written and commented extensively on the travel ban imposed on civilian men by the Ukrainian government.

Social Media






Lessons in Leaving: Vietnam and Afghanistan


Education (1)

University of Oregon: Ph.D., Political Science

Select Media Coverage (6)

Warts and All, International Law Is Still Better Than No Law

Bloomberg  online


Charli Carpenter, director of the Human Security Lab and professor of political science, is quoted in a commentary on international law in the context of the Israel-Hamas war. However imperfect, international law helps to distinguish “between ‘civilized’ violence and outright barbarity,” Carpenter says.

view more

‘It’s hard to conceive of this as anything other than like a death march’: Local experts decry forced displacement of Gazans

The Boston Globe  print


Charli Carpenter, political science and legal studies, is among the local experts commenting on risks from relocating Palestinians in Gaza. “It’s simply not possible to move 1 million people on foot in 24 hours. The attempt to do so will cause trampling, crowding, accidents, severe deprivation, exposure, and a crowding that will exacerbate risk of disease,” Carpenter said.

view more

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

War & Peace Podcast  online


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 perception and the gendered effects of Ukraine’s male travel ban and ways for better protecting civilians in wartime.

view more

UMass report shows devastating effects of Ukraine’s travel ban on its men

MassLive  online


“Ukraine is rightly fighting for its life against an invader, but this report shows that it’s high time to rethink this particular law on humanitarian and strategic grounds,” said Charli Carpenter, professor of political science and director of the Human Security Lab, in a statement. “We have a year of evidence that splitting up families and forcing men to stay is harmful, unnecessary and counterproductive to both the war effort and wider goals of democracy and civilian protection.”

view more

Ukrainians express worries over conscription following Russia's invasion

NPR  radio


Not only is conscription not voluntary, the exceptions have been suspended under martial law and a travel ban put in place that prevents most men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country, effectively trapping them inside Ukraine. Charli Carpenter is the head of the Human Security Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which recently surveyed thousands of Ukrainians about the travel ban. A majority said they do not support requiring men to stay.

view more

The challenges to prosecuting rape as a war crime in Ukraine, as allegations arise against Russia

WBUR  radio


Ukraine's prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, claims that thousands of war crimes have been committed by Russian forces all over Ukraine, including acts of sexual violence. Charli Carpenter, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, discusses the challenges of prosecuting rape and other sexual crimes used as weapons of war.

view more

Select Publications (6)

2023 Wasn’t All Bad News for Human Security

World Politics Review

Charli Carpenter


"As 2023 drew to a close, it was easy to feel like the world was trending in the wrong direction. Climate change is getting worse, and world governments have done precious little to stop it. Refugee crises have proliferated, even as unfounded distrust of foreigners is also on the rise. Authoritarianism is on the march, with freedom indicators continuing to slide, while reproductive health is facing a global backlash and trust in political institutions is dangerously low. The war in Ukraine is rumbling on, while the outbreak of war in Gaza has taken such a human toll that Christmas in Bethlehem—seen as the birthplace of Jesus by the Christian faithful—was canceled entirely this year...."

view more

Zelensky’s Travel Ban on Ukrainian Men Could Damage War Morale

Foreign Policy


Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law and submitted a notice to the United Nations announcing his intention to derogate from his country’s obligations under various human rights treaties for the necessity of national security. Among these derogations was the right to freedom of movement: Ukraine implemented a travel ban that restricts most men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country.

view more

Civilian Men Are Trapped in Ukraine

Foreign Policy

Charli Carpenter


On July 5, Ukrainian army generals issued a proclamation dramatically expanding the martial law prohibiting Ukrainian civilian men’s freedom of movement, calling on all those “liable for military service” to remain in their home districts.

view more

When Foreign Policy Went Wrong: How to Spot a Bad Concept When You See It.

Foreign Policy


In US foreign policy, it isn't always easy to suss out good ideas from bad. Some bad ideas masquerade as neutral fact, only to be exposed later on. Others worm their way into strategic doctrines, guiding a wide range of policies that long outlast the original thought. Good ideas, meanwhile, can have bad effects--and bad ideas can be used for good. Given this tangle, picking the worst foreign-policy ideas of the last 50 years may seem like knitting socks with fish line. But it's not impossible.

view more

The U.S. Is Breaking the Law on the Southern Border

World Politics Review

Charli Carpenter


Over the past few weeks, activists led by former border patrol agent turned refugee advocate Jenn Budd gathered at Fort Bliss military base outside El Paso, Texas, to protest the continued detention of children, many of them unaccompanied, in crowded conditions while they await asylum hearings. The protests are a continuation of direct action sparked off two summers ago by then-President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies, which included forcing immigrants to await asylum hearings in the dangerous city of Juarez, Mexico, rather than in El Paso; separating children from their parents or guardians upon detention, while deporting 1,400 parents back to their countries of origin without their children; and holding immigrants that made it across the border in crowded, inhumane conditions that fit the historical definition of “concentration camps”—internment centers where targeted groups are detained without trial or administrative proceedings.

view more

Breaking bad? How survey experiments prime Americans for war crimes

Perspectives on Politics


What affects Americans’ sensitivity to international laws and norms on the use of force? A wealth of recent IR literature tackles this question through experimental surveys using fictional scenarios and treatments to explore precisely when Americans would approve of government policies that would violate the laws of war. We test whether such survey experiments may themselves be affecting public sensitivity to these norms—or even Americans’ understanding of the content of the norms themselves.

view more