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Global Survey Suggests Broad Support for Stronger United Nations

A new survey suggests that while United Nations' member states frequently have a hard time agreeing on how the world body should carry out some of its key objectives -- preventing war, upholding human rights and promoting justice -- citizens of those states overwhelmingly support the United Nations and want it to take a more active role in resolving conflicts and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. VOA's William Ide has more from Washington.

The survey was conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and World Public Opinion-dot-org. It includes responses from people in 17 countries, including four nations holding permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council. Residents of the Palestinian territories, who do not have an independent state, were also polled.

According to the survey, 64 percent of people polled said the U.N. should have a standing peacekeeping force selected, trained and commanded by the United Nations. Another 52 percent said the U.N. should prevent a country without nuclear weapons from acquiring them.

Steven Kull, director of the University of Maryland's program on International Policy Attitudes, says the results show that although governments may be resistant to collective decision-making on such issues as human rights and nuclear proliferation, their populations are not.

"The argument that this [issues of non-proliferation, genocide, human rights violations] is simply an internal matter, you shouldn't get the U.N. involved in this kind of thing, that does not seem to fly with most people around the world," said Kull.

Kull noted that Chinese attitudes toward the United Nations constituted one of the most surprising results of the survey. On a scale of one to a hundred, the Chinese had the second warmest feelings toward the United Nations, after Mexico.

The Chinese people surveyed widely supported steps that would give the U.N. more power. A large majority, 76 percent, said the U.N. Security Council should be allowed to use military force in cases of severe human rights violations.

"I think that it expresses a strong readiness on the part of the Chinese to join the world, to be part of the world, to not be isolated," said Kull. "They like the process of globalization. If you asked about that they are some of the most enthusiastic. And the whole process of China coming and connecting to the world has been very much perceived as a positive experience for them."

The global public was more divided over questions such as the use of force to restore a democratic government that has been overthrown and the creation of a U.N. tax on the sale of arms and oil.