Human Security and Conflict in Ukraine: Local Approaches and Transnational Dimensions

Generating new insights and strengthening the capacity of local actors in Ukraine through research and knowledge-sharing on post-conflict reconciliation and government capacity at the local level.

Research findings

Human Security in Ukraine has been under severe pressure since 2013, most acutely so by the displacement crisis. Roughly half of IDPs do not intend to return to their pre-conflict place of residence. A mismatch in perceptions about the possible return of IDPs presents an obstacle to successful integration and adaptation. This has led to significant shortcomings in the integration and adaptation of IDPs in their place of residence. The recent decentralization of government is intended to durably strengthen human security and the issue of displacement acutely affects human security. Decentralization reform has clear benefits, but its implementation is fraught with challenges and its benefits risk being offset by negative outcomes such as local elite capture.

Implications for policy and programming

For the sake of the integration and adaptation of IDPs into their new places of residence, it is important that the Ukrainian government gets real about the prospect of return. Existing policy frameworks for the integration of IDPs have to be amended to reflect a more realistic approach to the displacement crisis. In addition there are a number of concrete measures that can be taken to facilitate the adaptation of IDPs, including the restoration of political rights and the creation of more economic opportunities for IDPs. One of the main risks of the decentralization reform is local elite capture, to which there are no easy solutions. The government of Ukraine started the decentralization reform with little preparation and it has improvised along the way. It is still not clear how the decentralization will proceed in the coming years and there seems to be no consolidated view on how it can be completed. Without a clear position from the government, there is a risk that the reform will remain unfinished and leave many communities (and IDPS) without the resources that they need.

Research uptake activities

Through the project’s publications, events, direct interaction with stakeholders, and media reports about the project’s research findings, relevant authorities, civic actors, and international practitioners have taken up new knowledge and insights. Highlight: This project has strengthened the capacity of civic actors through their direct involvement in this project as consortium partners (mainly in the case of Right to Protect), and otherwise through their participation in the project’s events, and by sharing and discussing research findings with them. The research provides empirical support for the idea that the absence of a durable solution complicates the integration and adaptation of IDPs. Sharing this knowledge with regional state administrations and at the regional migration service, hopefully encourages them to act and improve the situation of IDPs in the region.


Human security is at risk in fragile and conflict-affected Ukraine. The conflict has a clear transnational dimension as many people in the South and East identify with a foreign state (Russia) and are influenced by its media. This undermines the legitimacy and efficacy of government and complicates post-conflict reconciliation. This project aims to bring new insights on the complex connections between the transnational dimensions of conflict, human security, and state fragility. Research focuses on two related areas: post-conflict reconciliation and the strengthening of government capacity at the local level. We are particularly interested in how the implementation of policies and practices related to post-conflict reconciliation and the strengthening of government capacity at the local level can contribute to confidence-building, restoring human security, and strengthening local governance. Through its knowledge-sharing activities, the project will reach a variety of stakeholders, including government officials at the national and local levels, civic actors, practitioners, and experts and scholars. On the basis of substantial empirical research, the project will contribute to the academic literature on the transnational dimensions of conflict, state fragility, and human security. The project also seeks to generate insights that can feed into government policies and the programs of (domestic and international) practitioners and their implementation at the local level. Finally, the project aims to strengthen the capacity of local researchers to conduct high-quality research on project-relevant subjects and of civic actors to effectively address issues pertaining to post-conflict reconciliation and local government reform.


Professional publication


Project number

W 08.420.110

Main applicant

Prof. dr. A.W.M. Gerrits

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Team members

Dr. M. Bader, H. Bocheva, L. Bomassi, M. Boroda, Dr. O. Galkin, Prof. dr. A.W.M. Gerrits, Dr. B. Jarábik, K. Karahiaur, E. Moschini, Dr. N. Shapovalova, I. Shevliakov, O. Stashuk, Dr. J. Techau, O. Vynogradova, Dr. T. de Waal, B. Yielding


01/09/2016 to 01/10/2018