Majority of millennials see catastrophic war as real possibility

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Millennials see catastrophic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime. In fact, most millennials surveyed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) believe it is more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.

A survey of more than 16,000 millennials in 16 countries and territories last year – roughly half in peace, half experiencing conflict – commissioned by the ICRC explored millennials’ views on conflict, the future of warfare and the values underpinning international humanitarian law, such as the use of torture against enemy combatants.

The results indicate that millennials are nervous about the future, and heightened tensions globally are likely to deepen these fears.

A plurality of respondents, 47 percent, think it’s more likely than not that there will be a third world war in their lifetime. And although 84 percent believe the use of nuclear weapons is never acceptable, 54 percent believe it is more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.

Encouragingly, 74 percent of millennials also believe that wars are avoidable, and nearly the same number (75 percent) think that limits must be imposed on how wars are fought.

However, the survey reveals worrying trends that point to a lack of respect for the basic human values enshrined in international law: 37 percent believe torture is acceptable under some circumstances – even after the UN convention banning torture is explained to them; and 15 percent believe that commanders should do whatever it takes to win, regardless of the civilian casualties generated.


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