Majority of Lebanese optimistic about prospects for peace, says new poll

The majority of Lebanese people are optimistic about prospects for peace and security in their country, according to a global survey commissioned by International Alert and the British Council.

The Peace Perceptions Poll 2018, conducted in partnership with global polling agency RIWI, found that the Lebanese were more hopeful about peace prospects than those in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The first of its kind, the poll asks people around the world, including those in conflict-affected countries, about their perceptions of peace and conflict. Over 110,000 people participated in the survey, which was carried out online in Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Hungary, India, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

It found that 53% of people in Lebanon think that peace and security would improve over the next five years. 29% thought it would stay the same, with only 18% thinking it would get worse. By contrast, it was the relatively stable, middle and high-income countries who were the most pessimistic about their prospects for peace, with the UK as the most negative.

But the Lebanon results varied by region, with those in Beirut more optimistic about peace. In Baalbek, 30% of people thought peace and security would get worse, well above the national average. In North and South Lebanon, people were most likely to think there would be no change.

‘Interference by a foreign country’ constituted the Lebanese’ biggest concern, when asked what type of violence worried them most. This was followed by concerns about ‘terrorism’ and ‘domestic violence’.

The Lebanese believed that a ‘sense of injustice’ is was the main reason that pushes people to violent action. This was followed by ‘lack of jobs or need to provide for their families’ and ‘religious ideology’.

When asked how they would respond to violence, migration was the top response in Lebanon, followed by ‘asking local police or security forces to take action’.

The majority of Lebanese believed that political and economic inclusion was important to peace in their country. Compared to 5 years ago, 39% said their ability to influence political decisions that affect them was the same. 36% said they had more influence, attributing this to ‘new political leaders’ and ‘technology and social media’.

The 25% who said they had less political influence primarily blamed ‘corruption and bribery in politics’, followed by ‘no interest in politics’.

The most effective way of creating long-term peace, according to the Lebanese, was ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’. 32% of respondents selected this, with another 18% selecting ‘having democratic elections’.

35% of Lebanese said that to promote peace, their government should prioritise spending on ‘dealing with reasons why people fight’, with another 22% saying it should ‘teach peace, tolerance and conflict resolution in schools’.

Chiara Butti, International Alert country manager in Lebanon said: “It is very encouraging to see that the general public supports peacebuilding, advocating for spending on the root causes of violence and teaching pace and tolerance rather than focusing on the consequences of violence.”

“The survey validates our belief in the need for justice, the promotion of a democratic culture, and reforms that can guarantee equal access to services and resources, among which jobs and livelihoods opportunities have a crucial place,” she added.

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