Poll: Americans Confident in UN Handling of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Efforts

September 19, 2014
The 69‎th session of UN General Assembly is being held against the backdrop of international crises that include the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, ISIS military gains in Iraq and Syria and continuing negotiations with Iran. According to the recently released 2014 Chicago Council Survey of American opinion on foreign policy, majorities are confident in the UN’s ability to carry out humanitarian efforts and peacekeeping. They are more skeptical, however, of the UN’s effectiveness when it comes to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, resolving international conflicts and sanctioning countries that violate international law.

Findings include:
  • Six in 10 rate the UN as doing a good job on peacekeeping, humanitarian and cultural activities; less confident in the UN’s ability to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, resolve international conflicts and sanction countries that violate international law
  • A majority (78%) supports working through the UN to strengthen international laws against terrorism and to make sure UN members enforce them
  • Americans (59%) support going along with UN policy even if not first choice for US
  • Strengthening the UN is not a high foreign policy priority; only 4 in 10 said that strengthening the United Nations was a very important goal
The 2014 Chicago Council Survey report, Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment (PDF), which finds solid public support for the US having an “active” role in world affairs, was released on September 15. Additional polling information is available on The Chicago Council’s data-related blog, runningnumbers.org. For updates follow #2014CCS, @ChicagoCouncil, and @RoguePollster.

The 2014 Chicago Council Survey was made possible by generous support from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the United States-Japan Foundation, and Chicago Council Chairman Lester Crown.

Data was collected between May 6 to May 29, 2014 among a national sample of 2,108 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ± 2.1 percentage points. The full dataset from this year’s study will be made available on the website in January 2015.