Samarbetsland: Ukraine

Local Democracy and Resilience in Ukraine: Learning from Communities’ Crisis Response in War

Regional focus: Ukraine/Eastern Europe

Time: October 2023 – June 2024

Abstract

Amidst the devastating impact of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine has retained its sovereignty. Enabled by decentralization reforms from 2015-2020, local self-governance bodies have played a crucial role in Ukraine’s resilience, offering essential services and backing defense efforts. This phenomenon is puzzling in light of conflicting evidence about crisis management in decentralized states. This research aims to comprehend the relationship between local self-governance and democratic resilience, spotlighting participation, equity, transparency, and accountability as factors influencing conflict resilience on the local level. The research outcomes will shape recommendations for international development practitioners and policymakers. While employing a mixed-methods approach, the study involves quantitative analysis of original local authority surveys and qualitative analysis of online interviews and focus group insights. By building upon prior surveys conducted in the pre-war time in 2021 and in the first year of the full-scale invitation in 2022, this research uniquely tracks the evolution of local democracy’s role in resilience.

Research questions:

  1. How do municipalities’ roles and conditions for local self-governance change during an interstate conflict?
  2. What has been the role of citizen participation & equity, transparency and accountability structures in local decision-making processes during the interstate conflict?
  3. What are important factors to consider for international actors engaging in international cooperation for conflict resilience at the local level?

Researchers:

Dr. Oleksandra Keudel (PI), Assistant Professor, Kyiv School of Economics

Dr. Oksana Huss (Senior Researcher), University of Bologna

Myroslava Savisko (Research Coordinator), Project Manager, Kyiv School of Economics

This research project aims to support ICLD’s municipal partnerships in Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe during and after its implementation.

Related research projects:

  • Keudel, O., & Huss, O. (2023). Polycentric governance in practice: The case of Ukraine’s decentralised crisis response during the Russo-Ukrainian war. Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, 1(aop), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1332/25156918Y2023D000000002
  • Rabinovych, M., Brik, T., Darkovich, A., Savisko, M., Hatsko, V., Tytiuk, S., & Piddubnyi, I. (2023). Explaining Ukraine’s resilience to Russia’s invasion: The role of local governance. Governance, 1(20). https://doi.org/10.1111/gove.12827

Other ICLD research from Ukraine:

Projektområde
Inclusive leadership and governance
Globala mål
16 - Fredliga och inkluderande samhällen

Call for research proposals: Local democracy during war – the case of Ukraine

Terms of Reference

Background

ICLD calls for research proposals on the role of local democracy during armed conflicts, looking into the case of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

While there is a long academic debate about the critical role played by the local level in peace building processes (Leonardsson & Rudd, 2015; Mac Ginty & Richmond, 2013; Öjendal & Ou, 2015), less is known about the role of local governments and local democracy during armed conflicts. There is assumed to be positive impact of local democracy on preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts via mechanisms of participation and engagement. However, much of the literature focuses on local level peacebuilding related to communal conflicts and social divides. The invasion of Ukraine has shown the strong resilience of local governments who continue to function and carry out services despite immense challenges from an external invasion. In the changing security landscape, there is an acute and growing interest of international cooperation between local governments to support peer institutions in conflict zones and jointly work for increased preparedness and resilience. However, further exploration and evidence are needed to deepen our understanding of the complex relationship between local democracy and armed conflicts.

Seeing local democracy through the lenses of equity, participation, transparency and accountability, ICLD is issuing a call for research proposals focused on the intersection of local democracy and conflict resilience with particular focus on Ukraine. The research project aims to contribute to evidence-based policies and practices that promote inclusive and effective democratic governance, enhance conflict resilience, and increase prospects for societal reconstruction.

The findings shall inform ICLD’s municipal partnerships.

Purpose

Understanding the relationship between local democracy and conflict resilience, identifying key factors related to participation, equity, transparency and accountability that contribute to or hinder conflict resilience at the local level. The study shall be designed in a way that is relevant to practitioners and policymakers involved in international development cooperation at the local level, with particular emphasis on international peer exchanges between Sweden and Ukraine.

Scope

The study should map the role of local governments and local democracy in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in 2022.

The proposed research could address questions such as:

  • What has been the role of citizen participation, equity, transparency and accountability structures in local decision-making processes during the conflict?
  • How do municipalities’ roles and conditions change during conflict? (and how have they changed in Ukraine in particular?)
  • What are current needs of Ukrainian local governments in the provision of public services?
  • What are important factors to consider for international actors engaging in international cooperation for conflict resilience at the local level?

The researchers shall, as part of the research project, provide knowledge support to local governments involved in ICLD’s network of municipal partnerships in Europe and ensure targeted dissemination of research findings.

Deliverables

  • Research report using ICLD guidelines.
  • Policy brief using ICLD guidelines.
  • Poster with most important findings.
  • At least one dissemination/learning activity related to ICLD’s network of municipal partnerships in Europe.

Expected timeline

The project shall begin in September 2023 and end at the latest in May 2024. The dissemination deliverable can occur after this date.

Application

The research team should submit a research proposal using ICLD’s system and guidelines. ICLD encourages the collaboration with researchers from its scholarly network and MoU.

Budget

This grant is the equivalent to 300.000 SEK incl. VAT and overhead costs.

Application

The researcher or research team should submit a proposal using ICLD’s system SBS Manager. ICLD encourages the collaboration with researchers from its scholarly network and MoU institutions.

The portal requires an account to be made by the main applicant. The account and portal will also be used for contract writing, reporting and other administration around the grant. Make sure to start the application procedure well in advance of the deadline, to leave room for any unclarities and need for support.

Please use the following Proposal Template: Research Proposal Template

Deadline for application: 10 August, 2023

Note: Due to summer holidays, we cannot guarantee support with the application process from the 12th of July to the 8th of August.

Globala mål
16 - Fredliga och inkluderande samhällen
Etiketter
Forskning, research,

The Necessity of Talking the Talk: The functions of Communication for Anti-Corruption Political Will and Policy Development in Ukrainian Local Government

Abstract

Corruption is a notoriously intractable problem. How do local public authorities manage to initiate and sustain meaningful anti-corruption efforts? To address this question, we examine the processes and interactions among key stakeholders in six local settings in Ukraine showing sustained reform effort between 2014 and 2021. The analysis identifies key communicative tasks that, taken together, induce initial commitments to tackle corruption, turn commitments into tangible policies, and sustain reform and processes of change. The cases suggest three recommendations for international and local policy actors seeking to support reform: invest in multi-stakeholder platforms, use facilitators, and build internal capacity for data collection and analysis among local governments.

This policy brief builds on Research Report 22, and is linked to Policy Brief 16.

Read the authors’ reflections about the impact of this research project in this blog post.

Typ av publikation
Policy Briefs
Projektområde
Inclusive leadership and governance
Globala mål
16 - Fredliga och inkluderande samhällen
Etiketter
anti-corruption, communication, Dialogue, political will, Ukraine,

Political Will for Anti-Corruption Reform: Communicative pathways to collective action in Ukraine

Why do some local public authorities engage in meaningful and sustained anti-corruption efforts while elsewhere such initiatives falter? To address this question, we advance a definition of political will as it relates to anti-corruption reforms and examine six local settings in Ukraine which showed sustained reform effort between 2014 and 2021. While previous conceptualisations see political will as a function of leaders’ individual level preferences or contextual characteristics, we argue that it may emerge through intentional and strategic interactions among key stakeholders. The analysis identifies key communicative tasks serving to induce initial commitments, make commitments operative, and sustain change, that stakeholders must continuously undertake to promote anti-corruption political will. Three recommendations are derived for local governments: to invest in multi-stakeholder platforms, use facilitators, and build internal capacity. The communicative functions identified here can help create a network of linkages that reduces the power gradient between authorities and society, enabling the flow of knowledge, information and civil society demands. These networks can aid in addressing other complex policy challenges as well.

Note: This research project was conducted prior to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The effects of the invasion on the communicative processes that build this type of political will remains to be seen, but the tools this research identifies may be helpful for resilience and reconstruction: helpful in supporting a social contract of trust and accountability. This research is one of the many ways ICLD will continue to support local governments in Ukraine and beyond in strengthening democracy and give people the opportunity to decide their futures themselves.

The research project also comprises a policy brief.

Typ av publikation
Research Reports
Projektområde
Inclusive leadership and governance
Globala mål
16 - Fredliga och inkluderande samhällen
Etiketter
anti-corruption, communication, Corruption, political will,