The Most Documented War: Ethics and Practice of International Collaborations

7 March 2024

Along with the experience of Russia’s full-scale invasion, many Ukrainians have experienced the intensification of international contacts in the form of supportive calls and messages, invitations and trips abroad, organization of volunteer assistance and wide media attention, etc. The forced migration also acquired a cross-border dimension because many people have to leave their homes and seek safety in the countries of the European Union and beyond.

Documentation of the war has also become international from the very beginning. Already established professional collaborations and private friendships have become more active with offers of support and project organization. New situational contacts and collaborative long-term initiatives have emerged even more frequently, as did new support programs, grant funding, and fundraising opportunities, as well as field trips that combine documentation and volunteering. New institutions, digital environments, and publications in media and academic publishing houses have been established.

The work of documenting collaborations and creating war archives faces several challenges and opportunities at all levels, from practical documentation to forming visions of the future.

  • First and foremost, international collaborations imply mobility challenges. Who can come to Ukraine and who can go abroad? What is the movement within the country like? Which types of field trips are possible in the war zone or the de-occupied territories?
  • International collaborations concern the coordination of different legal and administrative frameworks. How does data storage and transfer function under the GDPR? How can international criminal law use the evidence collected? How can Ukrainian projects apply for grants in other countries? What challenges do projects face when transferring funds internationally? What is the reporting process like?
  • International collaborations problematize knowledge production. What challenges and opportunities does the emotional (dis)involvement of participants expose? What is the epistemological value of participants’ emotions? Who makes decisions in such projects? What language do they employ? How is their methodological framework formed? Who owns the results of this work?
  • Ultimately, international collaborations are about the daily routines of work life: how do they address security threats or day-to-day difficulties? How do you reconcile different modes of work and expectations of results?

This is the continuation of the symposium “The Most Documented War” launched in 2023 to gather initiatives that collect and archive materials about the Russian-Ukrainian war.

This year’s focus is on the ethics and practices of international collaborations as one of the key dimensions of how war documentation functions and which long-term effects it has. We suggest reflecting together on several topics: how such international collaborations emerged and developed; who joined the war documentation; what the long-term goals of the collaborations are; what facilitates and complicates the cooperation; how knowledge about the Russian aggression in Ukraine is produced and what policies may emerge from this knowledge in the international dimension.

The program of the symposium will include various formats: panel discussions, Q&A sessions, networking, workshops, and informal exchanges.

We invite you to apply for participation until March 25.

The organizers will confirm your participation by April 5. The number of participants is limited.

The project team plans to provide grants to cover travel and accommodation expenses for some participants from outside Lviv.

Working languages: Ukrainian and English (simultaneous translation will be provided during the event).


  • Center for Urban History, Lviv
  • Documenting Ukraine / The Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna


  • Center for Governance and Culture in Europe, University of St. Gallen

Program Committee of the Symposium 2024: Sasha Dovzhyk, Taras Nazaruk, Natalia Otrishchenko

Organizational Team:

  • Victoria Panas, producing
  • Sofia Andrusyshyn, coordination and logistical support
  • Maryana Mazurak, Yelyzaveta Bobrova, communication support
  • Oleksandr Dmytriev, Tetiana Dutko, Oleksandr Korman, technical support
  • Yaryna Paniv, Tetiana Figel, financial support

Photo: © George Ivanchenko // Urban Media Archive of the Center for Urban History