Millennials on War is a new ICRC survey of more than 16,000 millennials in 16 countries and territories - roughly half in peace, and half experiencing conflict.
In a world facing new and shifting sources of conflict, including disinformation and polarizing rhetoric around conflict, it's a snapshot of their perspectives on human rights, warfare and international law.
‘Millennials on War’ is the fifth in a series of ICRC research initiatives whose overarching aims are to explore the general public’s perceptions of war and increase awareness of international humanitarian law (IHL).
For this latest study, interviews took place in countries/territories affected by war and armed violence, and those that are enjoying peace. Consequently, the research highlights similarities and differences in attitudes among people living in vastly different contexts. Millennials, i.e. adults aged between 20 and 35, were surveyed in the following countries/territories: • Afghanistan, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
More than 16,000 millennials took part in the survey, which was carried out by market-research company Ipsos using a mixed-methods design. Quotas were set on age, gender, region and type of settlement in order to ensure that the sample effectively represents the millennial population structures in the respective countries/territories. Some of the questions asked in the survey are reproduced in the following pages, alongside infographics showing the breakdown of the responses. Not all results may add up to 100 due to rounding.
The survey distinguishes between countries ‘affected by’ and ‘not affected by’ conflict, to examine whether people’s personal exposure to or experience of conflict changes attitudes. Some of the countries considered as ‘not affected by’ conflict may, in fact, be parties to armed conflict, even though that armed conflict may have little impact on their own territory and general population. The survey uses the term ‘war or armed conflict’ and not simply ‘war’ or ‘armed conflict’ or ‘conflict’, to simplify and ensure understanding of the topic.
- Millennials consider war and armed conflict to be among the top five most important issues affecting people around the world today.
- Millennials are nervous about their future, with more who think there’ll be a third world war in their lifetime than those who don’t, and more than half believing that nuclear weapons are likely to be used somewhere in the world in the next 10 years.
- At the same time, the clear majority of millennials think that wars and armed conflict are avoidable, with those from war-affected countries/territories more hopeful than those in conflict-free countries.
- Millennials believe there should be limits in war and that civilian casualties should be avoided, but the survey reveals worrying trends that point to an erosion of the basic human values enshrined in international norms.
- Millennials overwhelmingly oppose the use of weapons of mass destruction – be they nuclear, biological or chemical – in any circumstance.
- Although there is a widespread consensus among millennials that nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity, at the same time, almost half of millennials believe nuclear weapons are an effective instrument of deterrence.
- The majority of millennials believe digital technology can have a positive impact in supporting victims of war, and only a slight majority of millennials think that artificial intelligence will increase the number of civilian casualties in future wars and armed conflicts.