WAPOR 75th Annual Conference, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 10-13 November 2022. Colin Irwin, University of Liverpool
Panel Abstract ‘Ukraine: Public opinion in a time of war’
Public opinion on the war in Ukraine is subject to the political interests of the UN member state’s relationship to that war. These interests are given shape and agency by the state’s media environment ranging from ‘free and fair’ to managed Orwellian state control. In this environment how can we objectively measure public opinion and draw conclusions about what is ‘true’? How can our framing of questions asked and interpretation of results in context help us to understand the phenomena of ‘war, peace and public opinion’ in our efforts to promote peace and prevent violent conflict?
The war in Ukraine provides us with a ‘natural experiment’ to explore these questions through the comparative study of public opinion in a number of UN member states that includes the protagonists, Russia and Ukraine, their respective allies around the world, and third party states that might view the war as simply a European affair. The panel includes papers on public opinion in the years leading up to and during the war in Ukraine and Russia with a focus on their populations support for the war and their nations objectives. Other papers include opinion in a selection of European, NATO and non-NATO states from around the world, allied, or not, with Ukraine or Russia. Additionally, given the involvement of the US and Russia in the wars that presaged the war in Ukraine, most notedly Syria, public opinion from the Arab world is included.
The war in Ukraine marks a paradigm shift in world affairs that distracts us from the existential threats of climate change and a mismanaged world. But did it have to be so? Did we ‘sleep walk’ through currents of public opinion unfolding on the world stage that brought us to this tragedy that should and possibly could have been avoided?
Paper Abstract ‘Public Opinion and Global Security’
With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia the prospect of a third world war became a reality if NATO forces engaged with Russian forces in the defence of Ukraine. In this context the imperative to give adequate attention to the needs of humanity and the planet in terms of global pandemics, climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are not being given the attention they require. Together these threats of world war and environmental collapse posse an existential threat to the entire global population. With all these points in mind the research proposals for a World Peace Poll published and discussed at numerous WAPOR conferences are visited again and placed in the context of the author’s work with the UN and OSCE over the past two years. Research in the public domain is reviewed from Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, Kashmir, Sudan, Bolivia, Iraq, Moldova and Transnistria to illustrate the successes, failures and lessons learnt using both AI Digital Dialogues and conventional public opinion polls. It is concluded that with the deployment of a World Peace Poll to provide both baseline and tracking data on all conflicts it would be possible to better prepare the world and mitigate the existential threats to world peace and security in this our twenty third century.
Irwin, C. J., Masood-Alavi, D., Waehlisch, M., Konya, A., Using Artificial Intelligence in
Peacemaking: The Libya Experience, WAPOR 74th Annual Conference, November 2-6, 2021. Irwin, C., Gilani, I., Gilani, M. B., A critical review of the UN75 Global surveys presented to the
2020 UN General Assembly, WAPOR 73rd Annual Conference, October 6-10, 2020.
Irwin, C. J., The People’s Peace Second Edition: Public Opinion, Public Diplomacy and World
Peace, CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, CA, (2020).