The UK has emerged as the most pessimistic country regarding its future peace prospects in a survey of 15 countries commissioned by the British Council and International Alert. 

The Peace Perceptions Poll 2018, conducted in partnership with global polling agency RIWI, found that people in the UK seem more negative about their country’s future peace and security than those living in conflict zones, including Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Pollsters say they asked more than 110,000 people about their perceptions of peace and conflict. The online survey included Brazil, Colombia, DRC, Hungary, India, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, with targeted polling additionally undertaken in Northern Ireland. 

The UK was the most worried about terrorism of all the countries surveyed. More than a quarter of Britons do not feel that the UK is a ‘peaceful and secure place to live in’.40% of UK respondents felt prospects for peace and security will get worse in the next five years.   

The report found people in the UK:

  • are most concerned about terrorism and criminal violence.
  • had some of the highest levels of perceptions of political exclusion: 41% of respondents felt less able to influence the political decisions affecting them, compared to five years ago. They blamed this on a lack of trustworthy information and corruption in politics.
  • perceived some of the lowest levels of access to economic opportunities, with 40% saying they felt unable to improve their or their family’s economic situation.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of International Alert said:

The poll’s findings point to the uncertainties facing the British public. The UK has to ensure that people have more equal access to economic opportunities and feel able to engage politically.”

Professor Jo Beall, Director Education and Society, British Council said:

“This poll seeks to understand people’s experience of conflict, and their aspirations for peace – whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world. We believe these findings will be useful for leaders and policy-makers facing up to the challenges of peacebuilding, wherever they are in the world.”

When asked about the most effective ways to build long-term peace internationally, a third of British respondents prioritised ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’, followed by a fifth who emphasised ‘supporting societies and communities to resolve conflict peacefully’. 

When asked how the UK government should promote peace: 32% said it should ‘deal with the reasons why people fight in the first place’, followed by 25% who said it should ‘teach peace, tolerance and conflict resolution in schools’. 

They chose these over military interventions, which was amongst the least selected options.  

Harriet Lamb added:

“At a time when conflict is on the rise, the poll shows strong popular support for peacebuilding approaches, which focus on dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place. The public clearly understand what is needed to build peace. People have crisis fatigue – they want long-term solutions. Politicians should focus on how to break the cycle of violence by investing more in peacebuilding.” 

Key Global Findings:

  • Those living in more peaceful countries tended to be more pessimistic about future prospects for peace. The UK, Brazil, the US and Hungary had the largest numbers thinking peace and security would get worse over the next five years.
  • ‘Lack of jobs and ability to provide for one’s family’ was widely seen as the top reason that would drive people to violent action. This was followed by a ‘sense of injustice’ and a need to ‘improve one’s social status’.
  • Globally, terrorism and criminal violence were people’s top security concerns.
  • 83% of global respondents said having political influence was fundamental for peace and security, with 90% saying the same about access to economic opportunities.
  • Globally, people said the two most important means of achieving long-term peace were establishing why conflicts start and supporting societies to deal with conflict peacefully.
  • When asked where governments should spend more to promote peace, ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’ ranked first in 10 of the 15 countries, followed by ‘teaching peace, tolerance and conflict resolution in schools’.
  • The DRC and South Africa perceived the highest levels of political exclusion, with 50% and 44% of the population respectively saying they are less able to influence the political decisions that affect them, compared to 5 years ago. This was followed by the UK (41%), Hungary (40%) and the US (37%).
  • Across the majority of countries polled, corruption in politics was cited as the number one reason why people felt they had less political influence. This was most strongly felt in South Africa, Ukraine and Nigeria.
  • Those who thought they had more political influence attributed it extensively to social media and technology, which ranked top with 28% choosing it.   
  • Those who felt most economically excluded generally lived in middle- to high-income countries, including Hungary, Ukraine, the UK, Lebanon, the US and South Africa. This shows that the perception of economic exclusion is as important as the reality.
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maurice10 (@guest_432755)
2 years ago

Policing in the UK is at an all-time low. At the next general election, whomever party can table meaningful improvements in lowering crime will win. The general public focus is no longer immigration as that will be dealt with through Brexit? Instead, the vote will be for more security and monitoring of the criminal factions within the country. Putting more bobbies on the street is one step that will be universally welcomed, but an increase in technologies, such as more CCTV both on the ground but in the air using Automionus drones, that can monitor trouble spots 24/7 and every… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432758)
2 years ago
Reply to  maurice10

Maurice. The focus should still be immigration as things stand the UK is increasing its population by 300,000 plus a year, and has been doing so for over a decade. Just how long can that go on for WITH an ageing indigenous population at the same time? No wonder public services are falling apart, house prices are rising, and in the South East especially roads are gridlocked. Whether Brexit deals with that remains to be seen as I do not believe HMG listen and understand. As for crime I agree. London is now full of criminal gangs from numerous countries… Read more »

farouk (@guest_432766)
2 years ago

Daniel wrote:
As for crime I agree. London is now full of criminal gangs from numerous countries shooting and in some cases literally hacking each other to death.

Have a butchers at the rouges gallery over at the London Met Twitter site:

Yet for some very strange reason anybody who states the bleeding obvious is deemed a racist.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432771)
2 years ago
Reply to  farouk

Sign of the PC madness we live in farouk.

And all respect to you, before some one reading my comment does just that and screams racist. It has NOTHING to do with race.

Fact. Country has too many people in it for the available public services, and it’s getting worse.

Fact. Thete are immigrants deemed refugees by the luvvies and economic migrants by the silent majority going round London with machetes and guns doing to each other what is the norm in their country but certainly not here!

farouk (@guest_432774)
2 years ago

DM wrote: And all respect to you, before some one reading my comment does just that and screams racist. It has NOTHING to do with race. The ‘R’ card really gets my goat. and it is used so frivolously now in which to silence honest questions: A few years back, me and her indoors went out for a drink. As I came back from the bar, Madam was embroiled in a huge argument with some coloured bloke. Apparently on seeing her there on her own, he walked up to her and said: “I am ***** and I am an asylum… Read more »

maurice10 (@guest_432776)
2 years ago

No Daniele, the main political focus is crime and police numbers, and it’s that issue that will dominate the next election. Yes, of cause immigration is still there but not in the same political sense as crime. Many of the current problems are within the same ethnic groups, which makes tackling the problem more of a challenge.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432780)
2 years ago
Reply to  maurice10

Understood Maurice.

You mentioned the general public focus in your first post and politicians focus in your second which is why I mentioned that in my opinion immigration is still and will remain a major issue for the public.

As for your comments in crime I quite agree.

Bill (@guest_432802)
2 years ago

Your wife told him to “f off back” after he introduced himself? Sounds like she is the rude aggressor here. The “coloured bloke” (honestly you are just asking to be treated like a bigot) wasn’t pulling the racist card to “silence honest questions” as you make out. He is using it because your wife was nasty to him, and she wouldn’t have had any idea whether he was an economic migrant or someone who had lost everything to war. It’s probably better to establish this before going off on one. I know he’s not exactly being classy by introducing himself… Read more »

Pete (@guest_432837)
2 years ago
Reply to  maurice10

Crime significantly fuelled by mass immigration, and round we goo!

AlexSmith (@guest_432879)
2 years ago
Reply to  maurice10

Sorry but I disagree.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub (@guest_432759)
2 years ago

In the UK, did they only ask the opinions of Gruaniad readers?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432772)
2 years ago


David E Flandry
David E Flandry (@guest_437453)
2 years ago

I do not think these perceptions are based ion reality, but skewed information. Just look at actual numbers of crime and terrorism. In general the world is becoming less violent than in the past, but having 24/365 news makes it seem more so. Places where violence and war are a threat are high include the Middle East. Russia is a threat to Ukraine and Baltic States, not to Western Europe.

BB85 (@guest_432773)
2 years ago

Crime and illegal immigration go handed in hand. If illegal immigrants are not registered and cannot earn income legitimately they turn to crime. Brexit will have no impact on this as the majority of them do not even come from the EU.

Steve M
Steve M (@guest_432777)
2 years ago
Reply to  BB85

I’m hoping Brexit will force a reform in the immigration system as a whole (yes I know, a vain hope). We need to transfer to some kind of points based system that encourages immigration where we have a skills gap, discourages for benefit tourism and other such reasons but still leaves room for genuine asylum seeking refugees (of which there shouldn’t be many as they should be entering another developed nation long before they make it to the UK). Reducing immigration eases the burden on ALL public services, policing included and allows funding through growth in the economy to catch… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432782)
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve M

Steve M a sensible post with which I agree with all. It’s ironic that Nigel Farage had been calling for a points based system for years with the emphasis on the skills the nation urgently needs. The emphasis should be what a migrant can offer the country not as it is now what can the nation offer the migrant. Which is a lot considering all those thousands camped in Calais are not sat there for the hell of it. You also rightly mention a genuine refugee is indeed welcome but a genuine refugee should be claiming asylum at the first… Read more »

Jonathan (@guest_432805)
2 years ago

The biggest threats in regards to criminally are: 1 Drugs, this is the greatest drive of crime in both the west and second world. It addiction and the need to get money to pay for it drives the vast majority of petty crime and the supply chain from out streets to the growers in the second world drive organised crime. We have proven over a hundred years from prohibition to the war on drugs, you can stop people getting wasted in their favourite, simple as. The more you crack down the greater the risk but the greater the profits, hence… Read more »

antidote (@guest_432830)
2 years ago

Diluting the population with people who do not resepct and accept our cultural is the biggest danger to our country. This leads to all the other problems in our case. Surely this is just common sense? I have no time for, “We all live on one planet and are one people.” History has shown again and again that the second part of this is fantasy land. In conjunction with the above, we need to be allowed to feel proud of our country. More patriotic. However, being too patriotic also has its dangers and can lead to an authoritarian or even… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_432832)
2 years ago
Reply to  antidote

I agree. I actually avoided mentioning the integration aspect and impact on the culture of the nation as doing so is bound to offend some one.

David Steeper
David Steeper (@guest_432896)
2 years ago

Just a word for you all. Whenever I read an article like this based on opinion poll or polls take a look at the organization that paid for it. Opinion poll comps make there money from organisations commissioning them to carry out polls that endorse their agendas. Polling companies ensure they get what they want by structuring the questions they ask and the order in which they ask them in order to get the result the people paying for it want. A little example when was the last time you saw an opinion poll that revealed public opposition to the… Read more »