Talking Peace at the Edge of War: Local Civil Society Narratives and Reconciliation in Eastern Ukraine


  • Ganna Bazilo Independent researcher, Netherlands
  • Giselle Bosse Maastricht University, Netherlands



Ukraine, conflict, reconciliation and dialogue, civil society, peace narratives


Scholarly works on Ukraine conflict and its resolution tend to focus on the role of states or international organizations. Yet, more and more local civil society organizations (CSOs) are embracing reconciliation as a new agenda in the post-Euromaidan period. In this article, we analyze the role of local Ukrainian CSOs in fostering dialogue and reconciliation in Eastern Ukraine. Research on sub-state actors as legitimate agency in peacebuilding in Eastern Ukraine remains scarce. By drawing on the “everyday peace” perspective, we show that local bottom-up narratives of the conflict differ greatly from the top-down narratives of states and international organizations. Whereas the latter tend to reconfirm the status quo of the conflict or the (neo-)liberal economic approach to peace, local CSOs promote “rehumanizing the other,” which constitutes a quintessential process in achieving sustainable peace in Eastern Ukraine.

Author Biographies

Ganna Bazilo, Independent researcher

MA in European Studies from the Maastricht University and MA in European Political and Administrative Studies from the College of Europe. Her expertise covers the areas of civil society development, capacity-building, EU cooperation programmes with Ukraine and Eastern Partnership countries. Ganna has worked in the European Parliament (EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee), Twinning project on “Support to the Development of Social Services System in Ukraine” and in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. She is currently Coordination and Cooperation Officer at the EU Advisory Mission in Ukraine (EUAM).

Giselle Bosse, Maastricht University

Assistant Professor (with tenure) and Co-Director of the MSc European Studies (Research) at Maastricht University (Netherlands). She is also Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. Her research focuses on the EU’ s policies towards Eastern Partnership countries. In 2012, she was awarded a VENI Research Grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for her project on Explaining Europe’s failure to deal with autocratic regimes: Which actors make and break effective democracy promotion? (€250.000; Ref 451-12-015). Giselle has published her research inter alia in the Journal of Common Market Studies, Geopolitics, Europe-Asia Studies, Cooperation and Conflict and with Manchester University Press. She frequently presents her work at leading think tanks in Europe and has contributed to several commissioned studies for EU institutions and think tanks.


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How to Cite

Bazilo, G., & Bosse, G. (2017). Talking Peace at the Edge of War: Local Civil Society Narratives and Reconciliation in Eastern Ukraine. Kyiv-Mohyla Law and Politics Journal, (3), 91–116.