Public perceptions of peace and conflict
In 2018, we surveyed over 100,000 people in 15 countries around the world – from those in active conflicts to those in relative peace – about their views on peace and conflict.
The poll was an attempt to find out how people experience and respond to violence where they live, what contributes to more peaceful and secure societies, and how they think their government should respond to conflict.
The findings showed a clear public appetite for an approach to violence that moves beyond crisis response towards long-term conflict prevention, commonly termed 'peacebuilding'. This approach seeks to deal with the underlying drivers of conflict while building societies’ capacity to deal with conflict peacefully.
Led by International Alert and the British Council, in partnership with global polling agency RIWI, the poll aimed to provide information for political leaders and senior policy-makers aspiring to deal with the root causes of conflict.
Approaches to tackling violent conflict
In 2020, we decided to take a more detailed look at three approaches to tackling violent conflict that respondents highlighted during the poll, to better understand the role they can play in supporting peace: humanitarian development, peace education and social media.
Below, you can read more about our latest research on these subjects as it becomes available as well as the findings from our original Peace Perceptions Poll, which still makes for fascinating reading.
Today, with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) having a profound impact on peace and conflict around the world, the need for peacebuilding is more pressing than ever. Not least because the presence of conflict is making it more difficult for emergency responders to tackle the pandemic and reach those most in need.
Peace is the cure
At the start of 2020, the 2030 Agenda – encapsulated in the UN member states’ commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – entered a ‘Decade of Action’ meant to accelerate progress towards sustainable development that would ‘leave no one behind’. Yet it was already in deep trouble even before COVID-19.
In this briefing, we argue that, if a leveraged focus on SDG 16 – the commitment to ‘peaceful, just and inclusive societies’ – was necessary before COVID-19, it is imperative now. Not just in salvaging the 2030 Agenda in the places where it matters most, but also in damping down the potential for far greater and more durable violent conflict.
Realising the potential of social media as a tool for building peace
Social media, in the context of peace and conflict, can be an enabler of political agency and a positive social connector, but it can also be a driver of polarisation, hate speech and violence.
While significant time has been invested in understanding social media as a threat, how it can be more effectively harnessed for building peace is a question of increasing interest to elected officials, donors and peacebuilding practitioners alike.
This paper offers reflections in answer to that question, drawing on perspectives from interviews with peacebuilders in Lebanon, Nigeria and the Philippines, and survey responses.
Peace Perceptions Poll 2018
Violent conflict around the world is leaving millions displaced, killed and injured, and there are increasing tensions between great powers and the erosion of international norms.
Within this context, the results of our 2018 poll underscored the need for tailored, informed, long-term solutions to conflict.
While the poll illustrated the diversity of people’s experiences, it also showed how much people have in common when it comes to how we aspire to, create and sustain more peaceful societies.