A year has passed since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Friends of Europe hosted a debate, entitled ‘Post-war Ukraine: Embedding Liberal Democracy’, to look beyond the barbarity of the war and consider what might emerge, assuming that Ukraine wins, afterwards.
Experts, diplomats and activists gathered to share their views on how things might go and what should be prioritised once the bombings stop and the nation begins to rebuild.
The debate revealed some surprising insights, particularly about changing attitudes towards minorities within Ukrainian society, as well as one deafening consensus: one year on from the escalated assault on Ukraine, the war must not be normalised.
Many participants called for a change in the narrative of Ukraine’s Western allies. “Now, let’s help Ukraine to win fast. It may be weird to hear this from a human rights defender that we need modern weapons,” said Oleksandra Matviichuk, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Head of the Centre for Civil Liberties and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40).
What will a post-war Ukraine look like? How do we bake the principles of fairness, democracy and good governance into a society, including its institutions and ways of working, that is coming out of war?
Ukraine is knocking on the doors of both NATO and the European Union. The drive towards a Western style of liberal democracy is strong, but it isn’t the only view, pointed out Professor David Rowe, Fulbright NATO Security Studies Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the German Marshall Fund.
“There’s a demand for justice from millions of people. We can’t ignore this demand because if we do, it will be very difficult for Ukraine to pursue the liberal democratic agenda,” concluded Matviichuk.
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Following questions will be discussed:
• How should Ukraine tackle the risks of political instability that could occur after Ukraine’s victory, such as the rise of nationalism?
• What must be done in Ukraine to tackle corruption issues and strengthen the rule of law in the country in order to reach EU standards?
• How could Ukraine protect and ensure the rights of its minorities after the war, especially ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people?
Head of the Centre for Civil Liberties, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)
A human rights lawyer and defender, Oleksandra Matviichuk is the first-ever Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She was awarded the esteemed prize for her work with the Center for Civil Liberties on democratic reform campaigns in Ukraine and the OSCE region. The organisation has been documenting war crimes committed by Russian troops since the initial invasion of Crimea, but also develops legislative changes, exercises public oversight over law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, and implements international solidarity programmes. Matviichuk coordinated the Euromaidan SOS civic initiative to provide legal assistance following the government’s crackdown on Euromaiden protesters, which has since monitored political persecution in the illegally occupied regions of Crimea and Donbas. Matviichuk has led similar campaigns, including #LetMyPeopleGo and #SaveOlegSentsov, to fight for the release of political prisoners detained by Russian authorities. Having authored reports for several United Nations bodies, the Council of Europe, the EU, the OSCE and the International Criminal Court, she received the Democracy Defender Award and is the country’s first female candidate to be nominated to the UN Committee against Torture.
Communications Coordinator at KyivPride
Edward Reese is a transgender, queer activist from Ukraine and a prominent LGBTQ+ educational blogger on TikTok. He currently works as a Communications Coordinator and Project Assistant at KyivPride, the country’s most visible LGBT+ organisation and the organisers of the Equality March pride parade in Kyiv. He has previously held roles at various LGBTQ+ NGOs, taking part in various international trans conferences and having notably created a series of lectures about queer theory and non-binary identities for beginners. Most recently, Reese has delivered speeches about the Russian invasion of Ukraine at pride parades in Warsaw, Copenhagen, Helsingborg, Malmö, Budapest, Stockholm and Mannheim.
Professor of Political Science at Kenyon College and Fulbright NATO Security Studies Scholar
Professor David Rowe teaches courses on political economy, comparative politics and international relations at Kenyon College and currently holds a Fulbright NATO Security Studies scholarship in Brussels. He previously directed the Center for the Study of American Democracy, an endowed, co-curricular institution of Kenyon College. Notably, Rowe has held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Innsbruck and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in International Peace and Security, and received grants from the Pew Memorial Trust and the National Science Foundation. His research has focused on three major themes: how economic sanctions influence target countries, globalisation’s role in causing World War I, and the foundations of political and international order. He is also the former executive director of the Aspen Strategy Group, a policy programme of the Aspen Institute on US security policy.
Business Ombudsman in Ukraine
A Canadian diplomat with over 30 years of experience in the field, Roman Waschuk is the Business Ombudsman in Ukraine. He is the former Canadian ambassador to Ukraine, prior to which he served as the ambassador to Serbia, with concurrent accreditation to Northern Macedonia and Montenegro. Waschuk has also held posts in the political and economic sections of embassies in Moscow, Kyiv and Berlin. In Ottawa, he has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in the Eastern Europe, European Union and Policy Planning divisions, as well as on the Global Partnership, and the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force. Notably, he was awarded the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal and the Ukrainian Presidential Order of Merit – Third Class.
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