German-Ukrainian Research Project: Track III Dialogues in Ukraine - Trends and Challenges
"Track III Dialogues in Ukraine - Major Trends and Challenges” is a collaborative research project of the Center for Peace Mediation and Dr Tatiana Kyselova, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in EU Studies/
Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine.
The shared observation between Tatiana Kyselova and CPM in 2015 was that efforts to establish domestic mediation (mostly civil or commercial cases) within Ukraine as well as recent dialogue and peace mediation processes addressing the current societal and political crisis encounter considerable and apparently similar challenges, with many of these endeavors simply failing. Putting together internal/Ukrainian and external/international expertise to explain these difficulties proved to be illuminating and thought-provoking for both sides.
The project actively engaged Ukrainian and international mediation and dialogue practitioners in the analysis of challenges and strategies to tackle them. Starting point of the project was an Expert Round Table (ERT I) in March 2016 hosted by the Center for Peace Mediation at European-University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). It brought together international experts, who are or have been conducting mediation or dialogue activities in Ukraine, to discuss hypotheses on the reasons for the faced challenges. For interim insights of the project discussions, see our Discussion Paper in English and Ukrainian.
In 2016 and 2017, Dr Kyselova conducted two focus-groups and 40 semi-structured qualitative interviews with Ukrainian and international dialogue facilitators, dialogue participants and individuals from organizations such as the OSCE and the United Nations and international donor organizations active in Ukraine, to explore possible reasons for challenges dialogue activities on Track III (civil society/grass roots level) are facing.
On 25 November, 2016, the research team met with Ukrainian and international mediation and dialogue experts for an interactive interview session (focus group) and a brainstorm session in preparation for the second Expert Round Table (ERT II). Subject of the focus group discussion were a series of open questions that came out of the Expert Round Table I in March 2016 and the field interviews carried out in Ukraine in summer 2016.
At a second Expert Round Table on 20 May 2017 in Kyiv, a policy paper draft and tentative recommendations deriving from the research were feedbacked by Ukrainian and international dialogue facilitation experts.
The overall aim of the research project was to explore the challenges, to identify questions for further research and to find answers that are of benefit for a context sensitive design of dialogue processes. Empirical data revealed six patterns and possible risks if the patterns are continued:
1) Different dialogue concepts and an overuse of the term “dialogue“ risk to undermine its value
2) A focus on “technical” instead of “existential” issues bears unclear risks
3) A geographical focus on the East of Ukrainian/Government controlled territories risks further societal polarization
4) A focus on mainstream political views in dialogues risks further exclusion of “the other Ukrainians”
5) A quantitative overrepresentation of women at track III is not leading to qualitative influence
6) Dialogue without sustainable project strategies risks low impact of dialogues
The Policy Paper “Track III Dialogues in Ukraine: Major Patterns and Resulting Risks” summarizes the main findings and illustrates first implications. Further implications will be discussed with dialogue facilitation experts, policy makers and donor institutions. A full research report will soon be published summarizing the Ukrainian context and illustrating the methodical approach taken.
This research was the first attempt to understand the complex Track III dialogue landscape in Ukraine. In order to formulate detailed recommendations that will help counteract the observed negative tendencies and enable positive changes, more in-depth research is required, in particular on the following questions: What are the systemic and institutional reasons for the gap between Tracks I and III and – taking these characteristics into account – how can this gap be bridged? What is the anatomy of the dilemma that might have led to the exclusion of “the other Ukrainians“ from facilitated dialogues and how can it be resolved? What methodologies of dialogue monitoring can contribute to the improvement of implementation strategies? What theories of change underpin choices of issues and geographical focus of facilitated dialogues and what implementation strategies derive from these choices?
The project is supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation. Tatiana Kyselovas' research was funded by the EU Seventh Framework programme for research and innovation under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 609402 - 2020 researchers: Train to Move (T2M).