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

Terms of Reference


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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


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.


Sustainable Development Goals
16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions
Forskning, research,