How to build peace (Як Будувати Мир): 20th- and 21st-century Ukrainian Greek Catholic peacebuilders in the Polish-Ukrainian conflict

  • Stefanie Knecht

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


In the last century, the Ukrainian-Polish relationship has ranged from strategic, neighbourly cooperation to wide-scale oppression and violence. Despite political and historical attempts to address historical controversies and tragedies, there continue to be diverging meta-narratives on events such as the Volhynian massacres and Operation Vistula, which suggest a protracted conflict. Therefore, this thesis will, first, suggest that representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) are particularly well-suited to initiate, facilitate, and guide peacebuilding efforts in the lingering Polish-Ukrainian conflict, and second, make some suggestions of how such peacebuilding activity could take shape. To make these arguments, this study is structured in the following manner. After a thorough description of the academic and societal status quo on the Polish-Ukrainian conflict, three lines of argument will be pursued. First, by means of a qualitative analysis of interviews and focus groups with twenty-eight research participants (Ukrainian experts and representatives of religious communities in Ukraine), it will become apparent that the Polish-Ukrainian conflict is perceived to be unresolved, that there is a need for peacebuilding, that a wish for more meaningful peacebuilding exists, and what kind of peacebuilding is envisioned. Second, through an analysis of religious peacebuilding and peacebuilder characteristics, I will suggest that the UGCC and her representatives, in a variety of ways, align especially well with these characteristics. Third, the possible, future effectiveness of the UGCC and her representatives in the peacebuilding process is not merely a theoretical positum, for the history of the Polish-Ukrainian conflict shows that in people like Metropolitan Andrei Sheptyts’kyi, the UGCC finds an important precedent for such peacebuilding activities. Following these three strands, then, I will conclude with some practical suggestions of how this potential in the UGCC could be actualised.
Date of Award30 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMario I Aguilar (Supervisor)


  • Religious peacebuilding
  • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
  • Andrei Sheptyts'kyi
  • Sheptytsky
  • John Paul Lederach
  • Ukraine
  • Polish-Ukrainian relations
  • Polish-Ukrainian conflict

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 11 June 2027

Cite this