Working Towards Just Peace: PAX’s Role in Ukraine

PAX strives for a just peace in Ukraine. We are fostering a peace that places freedom, democracy, human rights and active citizenship at its core. Since the aggressive full scale invasion in February 2022 – and before – Russia has violated international law and the human rights of millions of Ukrainians. It is imperative that the Russian military, including private military companies, immediately halt their aggression and withdraw from Ukraine. PAX believes that the European Union and NATO and other international organizations should support Ukraine as best they can.  

PAX stands in solidarity with its partners and with other Ukrainian citizens who remain committed to peace, democracy and human rights in these trying times.  

Read more about our position on the war

PAX in Ukraine  

PAX started developing projects in partnership with Ukrainian civil society groups in 2014. We have been working closely with local actors, engaged in advocacy both on national and international level.. We worked on on improving cooperation between local authorities and civil society in the eastern regions of Ukraine as part of decentralization reforms. We also trained youth leaders to become comfortable with diversity, explored the peacebuilding potential through religious actors and assessed the impact of the war on gender relations. With our partner Dignity Space we trained over 60 Ukrainians countrywide to become Peace Engineers. Peace Engineers are crisis communication specialists capable to mediate, de-escalate, and solve conflicts.  

Read more about what PAX did since the full-scale Russian invasion

What we do – programs in Ukraine 

MATRA project 
Strengthening Social Cohesion and Social Contract in war-struck Chernihiv Oblast

This MATRA project offers support to civil society, activists and local authorities.   Chernihiv region suffered heavily during the initial Russan invasion in the first two months of war. Much of the infrastructure and many homes were destroyed. We operate in two municipalities in the Chernihiv region: Chernihiv city, which was under siege, and the municipality of Horodnya, bordering with Belarus and Russia, which was under occupation. 

This program consists of three components:   

  • Facilitate active citizen engagement
    We establisheda platform for individuals to actively participate in the reconstruction and recovery efforts by encouraging them to contribute to the development of an inclusive reconstruction plan. This also involves knowledge sharing by PAX partners from other regions that have experienced similar post-conflict processes. Additionally, we established a separate watchdog platform to combat corruption. The local partner, Dobrochyn, is responsible for implementing this aspect.  
  • Strengthening social cohesion
    We work on enhancing social cohesion within the communities by focusing on mutual understanding and offering a light form of psychosocial support to help dealing with tensions in society. This component involves dialogue meetings by Peace Engineers, implemented by local partner Dignity Space
  • Sharing and preserving experiences.
    In partnership with the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, we have gathered witness stories that will be archived and also be used to create an exhibition. The process of gathering these stories and giving them back to the community in different forms is creating spaces for people to share their experiences and to contribute to inclusive memorialization. The aim is to highlight the importance of widely different individual experiences and the agency of individuals.  
photo: Cinta Depondt

GIRO 555

This program is funded by Giro555 and the people who have supported PAX through their donations. PAX Peace Engineers and religious leaders are able to assist Ukrainians affected by the war. Our support extends to internally displaced persons, civilians in occupied or devastated areas, activists and volunteers, local authorities, and those who have lost family or their homes. The objective of this program is to strengthen peacemakers’ networks and provide accurate, reliable information that support Ukrainians in workings towards peace.  

This program works on the following outcomes:  

  • Strengthening of current network
    We want to maintain and reinforce the network of Peace Engineers and (religious) community leaders in Ukraine and refugee locations. This enables them to address the immediate humanitarian and psychological needs of their communities. 
  • Humanitarian response and post-conflict assessment
    We will continue our efforts to improve an informed humanitarian response and a post-conflict assessment of weapon-inflicted harm on civilian and religious infrastructure, conflict-related pollution and broader environmental damage. This fact-based data is collected, analyzed and reported on in order to aid post-ware recovery. Toevoegen paar zinnen werk van Wim, ook linken naar institute for religious freeomd 
  • Citizen and Survivor Inclusion
    We are working to establish mechanisms that include citizens and survivors in restoration of social cohesion, democratic structures and reconciliation. This approach seeks justice, accountability and reconciliation in participatory ways, thus initiating the processes of healing social fabric and relationships within affected communities.  

Read more about our Giro 555 Program

photo: Olena Hantsyak-Kaskiv

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