Americas

Americans' Ratings of United Nations Among Worst Ever

Sixty-four percent say it is doing a poor job

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's recent World Affairs poll finds ratings of the United Nations among the worst ever measured, with negative evaluations outnumbering positive ones by a 2-to-1 margin. Despite the low ratings, most Americans believe the United Nations should play a major role in world affairs, a view that has been remarkably stable in recent years. Republicans are somewhat more negative than Democrats in their views of the United Nations, in terms of both the organization's performance and its proper role in international matters.

United Nations' Job Performance

The Feb. 6-9 poll finds just 30% of Americans saying the United Nations is doing a "good job in trying to solve the problems it has had to face." That percentage represents a significant decline from 36% ratings in each of the past two years, and is within two percentage points of the lowest reading Gallup has measured on this question, which dates back to 1953. In August 1985, just 28% gave a favorable review of the United Nations.

Currently, 64% of Americans say the United Nations is doing a poor job -- the highest negative rating of the United Nations Gallup has ever measured. At least a majority of Americans have said the organization is doing a poor job since the war in Iraq began.

Historically, Americans have not given the United Nations very positive reviews. The average ratings since 1953 are 42% "good job," 47% "poor job," and 11% no opinion. The United Nations' highest recorded positive rating is 58% in February 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Republicans are typically more critical than Democrats or independents in their evaluations of the United Nations. That is the case this year, although all three groups give the international organization low ratings. Thirty-six percent of Democrats, 31% of independents, and 23% of Republicans say the United Nations is doing a good job.

One of the explanations for the recent drop in ratings is that Democrats and independents have become more inclined to view the United Nations' performance unfavorably. For example, in 2004, 47% of Democrats, 37% of independents, and 24% of Republicans said the United Nations was doing a good job.

Proper Role for the United Nations

Even though Americans have not been enthusiastic about the job the United Nations is doing, they still believe it should play a major role in world affairs. The poll finds 68% favoring a major role for the United Nations, including 26% who say it should play a "leading role." Twenty-eight percent of the public says the United Nations should play only a minor role.

These views have remained stable in recent years even as Americans have become more negative in their opinions about the job the United Nations is doing. In the four times this question has been asked since 2001, either 68% or 69% of Americans have endorsed a major or a leading role for the United Nations.

Now thinking more specifically, which of the following roles would you like to see the United Nations play in world affairs today -- should it play -- [ROTATED: a leading role where all countries are required to follow U.N. policies, a major role, where the U.N. establishes policies, but where individual countries still act separately when they disagree with the U.N., (or should it play) a minor role, with the U.N. serving mostly as a forum for communication between nations, but with no policymaking role]?

Leading
role

Major
role

Minor
role

SHOULD
NOT
EXIST
(vol.)

OTHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Feb 6-9

26

42

28

1

1

2

2005 Feb 7-10

21

47

27

1

1

3

2004 Feb 9-12

24

45

28

1

*

2

2001 Feb 1-4

19

49

28

*

1

3

(vol.) = Volunteered response

* Less than 0.5%

Democrats are slightly more likely than independents or Republicans to endorse a more prominent role for the United Nations -- 31% of Democrats believe the organization should play a leading role in world affairs, compared with 24% of independents and 23% of Republicans.

Views of the United Nations' proper role are not strongly correlated with evaluations of the job it is currently doing. Seventy-seven percent of those who believe it is doing a good job say it should play a leading or major role in world affairs, compared with 64% of those who say it is doing a poor job.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,002 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 6-9, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Now thinking about the United Nations,

19. Do you think the United Nations is doing a good job or a poor job in trying to solve the problems it has had to face?

Good job

Poor job

No opinion

%

%

%

2006 Feb 6-9

30

64

7

2005 Feb 7-10 ^

36

61

3

2004 Feb 9-12

36

60

4

2003 Aug 25-26

37

60

3

2003 Mar 14-15 ^

37

58

5

2003 Jan 23-25

50

42

8

2002 Oct 21-22 ^

43

51

6

2002 Feb 4-6

58

36

6

2001 Feb 1-4

54

38

8

2000 May 18-21

52

43

5

1996 Feb 23-25

46

46

8

1995 Oct 19-22

36

49

15

1995 Sep 19-22

36

49

15

1995 Aug 28-30

35

56

9

1993 Jun 18-21

46

41

14

1993 Mar 29-31

52

44

5

1990 Oct 18-21

54

34

12

1985 Aug 13-15

28

54

18

1985 Feb 15-18

38

44

18

1983 Oct 7-10

36

51

13

1982 Jun 25-28

36

49

15

1980 Sep 12-15

31

53

16

1978 Feb 24-27

40

39

21

1975 Nov 21-24

32

51

16

1971 Oct 29-Nov 2

35

43

22

1970 Aug 25-Sep 1

44

40

16

1967 Jul 13-18

50

35

16

1953 Dec 11-16

55

30

15

^ Asked of a half sample

20. Now thinking more specifically, which of the following roles would you like to see the United Nations play in world affairs today -- should it play -- [ROTATED: a leading role where all countries are required to follow U.N. policies, a major role, where the U.N. establishes policies, but where individual countries still act separately when they disagree with the U.N., (or should it play) a minor role, with the U.N. serving mostly as a forum for communication between nations, but with no policy making role]?

Leading
role

Major
role

Minor
role

SHOULD
NOT
EXIST
(vol.)

OTHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Feb 6-9

26

42

28

1

1

2

2005 Feb 7-10

21

47

27

1

1

3

2004 Feb 9-12

24

45

28

1

*

2

2001 Feb 1-4

19

49

28

*

1

3

(vol.) = Volunteered response

* Less than 0.5%

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/21871/Americans-Ratings-United-Nations-Among-Worst-Ever.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030