People on War Report, 2016
Yesterday, the ICRC published it’s People on War report which gives important insights on peoples’ views on a range of issues relating to war. The survey covers views of over 17,000 people in 16 countries: Yemen, Colombia, Switzerland, China, France, Syria, Russia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Iraq, United States, United Kingdom, Nigeria and Israel. The last People on War survey was conducted almost 20 years ago in 1999.
The survey’s key findings are as follows:-
People living in countries affected by war believe the law matters. Over two thirds of all respondents think it still makes sense to impose limits on war. Almost half of those surveyed in conflict-affected countries still believe the Geneva Conventions prevent wars from getting worse.
The survey results highlight that violence against health care is unacceptable. Over three quarters of those surveyed believe that attacking hospitals, ambulances and health-care workers is wrong.
Compared to 1999, there is a higher degree of acceptance amongst people living in the P5 countries and Switzerland that the death of civilians in conflict zones is an inevitable part of war.
Over the past two decades, there has been a shift in public attitudes towards torture. Two thirds of all those surveyed in 2016 say torture is wrong. But when asked specif ically about whether an enemy combatant can be tortured, fewer people disagree than in 1999. In addition, there is a significant increase in the number of people who don’t know or prefer not to answer.
There is a disconnect between public opinion and the policies and actions of States and armed groups.
Violations of the laws of war – including the targeting of civilians, humanitarian workers and hospitals – are continuing, yet the survey results clearly show that the majority of people understand that these practices are wrong and that civilians and health-care workers and facilities should be protected.
The report ends with a number of calls to action that include a reminder to all parties to a conflict of their obligations under international law to respect and ensure respect to life and human dignity. It also asserts that support to any party in an armed conflict, should be conditional upon their compliance with the law.