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People on War

A UN peacekeeper from the Irish batallion talks with teenagers playing near the front line in Tibnin, South Lebanon.

Mavis Yawa tells of her experiences as a tortured ex-detainee in the township of Philippi outside Cape Town.

In a worldwide consultation, civilians and combatants alike were asked how they viewed their experience of war, what basic rules they thought should be applied in war, why these rules break down and what their expectations for the future were.

This consultation was organized by the ICRC to mark the 50th anniversary of the modern Geneva Conventions (on 12 August 1999). Under the guidance of an opinion research firm, Greenberg Research, Inc., ICRC staff and Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers carried out this research in 12 countries (Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Georgia/Abkhazia, Israel, the occupied territories and the autonomous territories, Lebanon, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia and South Africa), conducting in-depth, face-to-face interviews, group discussions and national public opinion surveys. Surveys on the basis of a questionnaire only were conducted in a further five countries (France, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States) in order to reflect these people's perceptions of war.

By making the outcome of this consultation public, the ICRC hopes to initiate a local and international debate on the humanitarian aspects of war - a debate in which the major political players, international and non-governmental organizations and aid specialists should participate. Greenberg Research analysts prepared a series of country reports which have now been published (see our Resources section and the website

 "Do not give in to these patterns of war" say those who have endured the worst of modern war. Photographs shot during the survey reflect this feeling in their own ways.
West of Medellin, Colombia. Rebel fighters participate in a group discussion about international humanitarian law.
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