“Millennials see catastrophic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime” found the Millennials on War survey from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Conducted in 16 countries with around 16000 respondents, the ICRC survey aimed to find out what millennials thought about war and peace. The results were released globally on January 16.
The survey explored millennials’ views on conflict, the future of warfare and the values underpinning international humanitarian law. In 2016 the organisation previously conducted a People on War survey. Global research firm, IPSOS Public Affairs conducted the survey on behalf of the ICRC.
Corruption and Unemployment
For millennials in South Africa as well as Palestine and Nigeria unemployment was the main concern. Almost 75% of the millennials in the survey listed unemployment as their biggest worry. There was a survey of nearly 1000 South Africans. Only 14% said that war and conflict were their primary concern. Globally, corruption and unemployment are the biggest concerns for millennials.
The survey took place during 2019 which marked the 70th year of the Geneva Convention. The convention forms a core part of international humanitarian law which governs times of war and conflict.
The Geneva Convention
Respondents were questioned about the Geneva Convention as well. In South Africa, 82% of South Africans surveyed were not aware of the Geneva Convention. More than half believe there’s a need to impose limits on the way wars and armed conflicts are fought.
Speaking to The Daily Vox prior to the release of the results, Haja Kamara, deputy head of regional delegation at the ICRC said the overall results were found to be a bit shocking.
She said the results showed how fake news and disinformation have polarised viewpoints of people. Kamara added that the results showed there is an increasing acceptance of dehumanising language and action towards perceived and real enemies.
Overall in South Africa, war and the threat of it do not pose the most important concern for millennials. The survey found that 69% of South African millennials believe that wars and armed conflict could be avoided. A little less than half of the South African millennials (49%) said they believed they are likely to be affected by war and armed conflict in the future.
A big issue that has emerged in international politics in the recent few weeks has been the threat of nuclear weapons on world peace. During the survey, 77% of South Africans said they believe that the existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to humanity. Only 26% of the group said they believed that nuclear could be an effective instrument for deterrence.
Kamara said it was concerning that many of the South Africans surveyed were not aware of the role that South Africa had played in the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.
The lack of knowledge is one of the reasons why the survey was conducted. Kamara said the survey is meant as a tool for reflection and to initiate dialogue. The survey is meant to target the lack of awareness around war and the laws meant to govern it.
Moving forward from the survey, the ICRC hopes millennials begin conversations around the issues raised and share experiences around them.