Ivan Krypiakevych Institute of Ukrainian Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Army Academy
National Academy for Public Administration under the President of Ukraine
After the end of the Polish-Ukrainian War (1918–1919), the Polish state incorporated
the territory of Galicia. However, the status of the acquired lands was
a subject of international debate. The article analyses the diplomatic activity of
the West Ukrainian Society of the League of Nations (ZUTLN). The emigrant
government of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR) initiated it in
the early 1920s to defend the rights of Ukrainians for their own country. The text
focuses on the effectiveness of the governing bodies of ZUTLN, as well as their
methods in the international arena.
ZUTLN attempted to reshape the League of Nations from the union of the
winning WWI states into the union of nations based on the genuine democratic
foundations with an equal voice in resolving critical geopolitical issues. The initial
efforts of the society’s leaders (the presidium) were aimed at keeping alive
the «Ukrainian issue,» namely proving the rights of the Galician Ukrainians to
its own state after the end of the Polish-Ukrainian war.
With the main stages in the activities of ZUTLN identified, the emphasis was
made on the significant state-forming role of the society leaders. Roman Perfetskyi,
Ernest Brighter, Osyp Nazaruk, Illya Semak, Kyryl Tryliovskyi, Oleksandr
Maritchak, Josaphat Jean, Aytal Zitoshynskyi promoted the idea of the rights of
nations to self-determination, own statehood and independence. They expressed
their demand for the unification of the lands of the Eastern Galicia, Chełm, Volyn,
and Pidlyashshya (captured by Poland), as well as the northwest Bukovyna (occupied
by Romania), in the restored Ukrainian state.
International activities of ZUTLN would have been impossible without close
cooperation with the ZUNR government, members of the Ukrainian parliamentary,
state-oriented political parties of Western Ukraine, primarily national democrats
and radicals. These people supported the society financially and morally, provided
expert and analytical conclusions for the notes of protest, corresponded diplomatic
appeals to the governments and parliaments of the world nations — the
relationship between the President of ZUTLN R. Perfetskyi with Ye. Petrushevych,
K. Levytskyi, as well as other well-known Ukrainian politicians and diplomats,
yielded some positive results.
Representatives of ZUTLN raised particularly acute questions of the Ukrainian
statehood restoration at the meetings of the Union of Societies of the League of Nations (STLN), which the society became part of in 1922. At the meetings of
the Main Board of STLN (1922–1923), thanks to the leading members of the Organization,
the problem of eastern Galicia was discussed repeatedly. The drafts
of resolutions demanded the Entente countries fulfill all the obligations regarding
Eastern Galicia. There were also demands for the «restoration of independence
of the ZUNR» and «ceasing occupation», and subsequently the prohibition
of conducting elections in Eastern Galicia.
A turning point in the ZUTLN was the Decision of the Council of Ambassadors
dated March 14, 1923, on the transfer of the Western Ukrainian lands to
the Second Polish Republic. It radicalized the issue of Western Ukraine, still relevant
in European politics. The attempts by ZUTLN to suspend the process of
ratification by the parliaments of European countries did not yield any results.
Attempts by members of the society to move their center to Lviv were also unsuccessful
due to the obstacles from the Polish authorities. It was proved that de
facto, the society functioned until 1927, but its role in the domestic/international
arena reduced to a minimum.
Keywords: West Ukrainian Society of the League of Nations, Union of Societies
of the League of Nations, diplomacy, Western Ukrainian People’s Republic,
emigrant government, Conference in Lyon, Eastern Galicia, State of Poland.