Bringing together the views of more than 100,000 people, the Peace Perceptions Poll sought to answer questions around how people experience and respond to violent conflict, and how they think their government should respond to conflict.
More countries are experiencing violent conflict now than at any time in the past 30 years. People have been displaced from their homes at a rate not seen since the Second World War. The cost of conflict is currently estimated at US$1.04 trillion a year.
As conflict rages unchecked and humanitarian global norms are flouted, people’s faith in international institutions is being undermined. Confrontation between great powers is back on the agenda. And with some of today’s worst conflicts taking place in middle-income countries, economic growth is no guarantee of peace and stability.
This is the disturbing context to this inaugural Peace Perceptions Poll. Led by International Alert and the British Council, in partnership with global polling agency RIWI, the poll aims to provide information for political leaders and senior policy-makers aspiring to deal with the root causes of conflict.
It also seeks to contribute to a greater public discourse around peacebuilding – dealing with the drivers of conflict and building people’s capacity to resolve disputes peacefully – as a critical approach to preventing and responding to violence.
For 2018, it includes a ‘special insight’ on the role of political and economic exclusion as drivers of conflict.
Who was polled?
The countries polled in 2018 represent a wide range of circumstances, from more peaceful states to those at risk of conflict and those where there is active armed conflict.
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- South Africa
- United Kingdom (UK)
- United States of America (US)
- Targeted polling was also undertaken separately in Northern Ireland.
The report includes four dedicated country snapshots on Colombia, DRC, Lebanon and Ukraine, together with a ‘special insight’ on Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland represents a story of progress, while still retaining echoes of conflict; Colombia has just crossed the threshold of peace; while DRC, Lebanon and Ukraine are experiencing conflicts that have largely fallen out of the public spotlight in the west but continue to threaten and disrupt the lives of millions.
What makes the peace poll different?
What ultimately sets this poll apart is that, rather than just focusing on threats to peace, it examines perceptions around the path to peace. Through harnessing the views and aspirations of thousands of people in 15 countries, we have dug behind the otherwise amorphous term ‘peace’ to see what it looks like in tangible terms – its core ingredients and how we can ensure there is more of it. In this sense, the findings link conceptually with the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in particular, Goal 16, which focuses on peaceful and inclusive societies.
What is the purpose of the peace poll?
Overall, the results underscore the need for tailored, informed, long-term solutions to conflict. They highlight a level of innate understanding from members of the public about how to tackle conflict that we may not otherwise appreciate if we did not ask. With space for nuance in political discourse diminishing, this poll shows that nevertheless, this is what people demand when it comes to the challenge of conflict. While the poll illustrates the diversity of people’s experiences, it also shows how much people have in common when it comes to how we aspire to, create and sustain more peaceful and secure societies.