Public opinion surveys have been used for conflict analysis since World War II and were developed as an aid for conflict resolution in support of negotiations and instrument of public diplomacy in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. What are now referred to as 'peace polls' have subsequently been employed to bring the views of critical populations into peace processes in a number of conflicts around the World. However, the application of this methodology has been done on an ad hoc basis and generally bespoke to a particular theatre of violence receiving international attention.
This issue is well understood by the UN but in their review of UN peacekeeping operations around the World the Senior Advisory Group noted that the views of local people were not systematically being sought to help resolve conflicts and they strongly recommended that this omission should be rectified. UN DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) policies are presently under review to address this issue. To this end, by mainstreaming 'peace polls' through their global application in an index the views of local people can be made a normal part of every-day conflict discourse and comparative analysis in conditions of both violent conflict and states of peace.
The existing fact-based Global Peace Index (GPI) uses UN and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) data to analyse the peace 'profile' of 162 UN member states annually while the International Crisis Group (ICG) regularly reports on about 60 or 70 countries subject to violent conflict. But these analyses do not systematically sample the views of local populations and their perceptions of peace, violence and the problems that they consider a threat to their security. Peace polls can do this and an instrument for general application has now been refined and tested for global deployment to create a perceptions-based People's Peace Index (PPI).
Download the research paper and questionnaire presented at the 66th WAPOR Annual Conference in Boston (from May 14 to 17, 2013):
In 2013 the least peaceful state at 162 on the Global Peace Index was Afghanistan while the US came in at the 99th position (GPI 2013). However, using a perception based question WIN Gallup International (2013a) ranked the US at the top of their list of nation states that were 'the greatest threat to peace in the world today' from a sample of 65 nation states in their 2013 End of Year (EoY) survey. In addition to being fact based and perceptions based a number of other elements contribute to these very different kinds of outcomes including, for example, the definitions of peace being tested and the associated questions being asked/addressed, the nation states being sampled, the demographics of the samples, the rational for the analysis and the availability of the relevant data. Critically, on this final point the World Bank 2011 World Development Report (WDR) on Conflict, Security and Development notes that they were frequently only able to collect the data they required for conflict analysis using perception based surveys as fact based data was often unavailable.
For the establishment of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the UN note that "Without peace, there can be no development" so finding the right indicators to monitor the Peace MDGs is of central importance to these objectives (UN 2013). This is particularly true for the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs) being established to monitor the G7+ New Deal for fragile states.
With all these points in mind "A Critical Review of Perception Based and Fact Based Peace Indicators and Indexes" evaluates the fact based Global Peace Index, Positive Peace Index and Global Terrorism Index alongside the available perceptions based indicators including the Gallup World Poll, WIN Gallup International End of Year (EoY) surveys, Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and peace polls People's Peace Index (PPI) pilots as well as the hybrid fact and perceptions based indicators proposed to monitor the G7+ New Deal fragile states. These indicators and indexes are also examined in terms of their efficacy to monitor conditions of peace and violence in the context of violence and the problems associated with such violence. Quite simply are they asking the right questions with the right demographics?
Download the review paper presented at the 67th WAPOR Annual Conference in Nice (from September 4 to 6, 2014):
This is the third in a series of three WAPOR Annual Conference papers written to design, develop and deploy a perceptions based People's Peace Index (PPI). The first paper, given at the WAPOR Annual Conference in Boston (Irwin and Deshmukh, 2013), detailed the results of an extensive program of piloting in India, the US and UK to develop a questionnaire that could effectively monitor violent conflict. The second paper, given at the WAPOR Annual Conference in Nice (Irwin, 2014), critically examined available perceptions and fact based peace indicators and indexes to determine how best to analyse such data and further refine the questionnaire. This third paper deals with the difficult issues of sample design that must document the opinions of disaffected groups and the context within which their perceived grievances have arisen leading to violence in global, regional, transnational, national and/or local contexts.
This task is not easy as such groups can be quite small. The active members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and various opposition Loyalist insurgents in Northern Ireland were never more than 1 per cent of their respective Catholic and Protestant communities, which accounted for only 3 per cent of the UK population as a whole. Additionally, in an age of globalisation, the Internet and social media, such groups are increasingly transnational carried forward by perceptions and beliefs unrestrained by national boundaries. Clearly this sampling problem could be resolved with very large national surveys collected globally using a uniform methodology. But the costs of doing this annually to monitor and track both potential and active conflicts would be prohibitive making such an exercise difficult to sustain year on year.
This paper reviews the various samples collected for the peace polls undertaken in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Syria as well as the global and sub-global samples collected by Gallup, WIN Gallup International, Globescan, IpsosMORI and others. It also reviews the conflicts monitored by the International Crisis Group (ICG) and International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), identifies the demographics of the relevant parties to those conflicts and determines what samples would be required to minimally capture their perceptions of conflict using the instruments and analysis developed in the previous two studies. Finally, from a review of the demographic questions used in these and other regional and global surveys a final draft of the PPI questionnaire is included in an appendix along with a detailed account for its deployment in a global pilot that will test the robustness of the instrument, modes of analysis, validity of the indexes and effectiveness of the sample design with a view to its full deployment on an annual basis.
Download the review paper presented at the 68th WAPOR Annual Conference in Buenos Aires (from June 16 to 19, 2015):
View the results for the UK and US Google pilot PPI results here:
And here is a link to the WIN Gallup International results for "Which country do you think is the biggest threat to world peace?" for the world as a whole:
And here are the results for this question for each country including the US and UK: WIN Gallup International Country Results