American approval of UN increases as views of US leadership decline

At a time when the United Nations is under increasing scrutiny with regard to its inability to resolve crises in Syria, Sudan, and concerning nuclear weapons proliferation, Americans seem to be more inclined to view the institution favorably.

A recent 2011 Pew Resarch Center poll found nearly 60 percent of Americans believed the US should cooperate with the U.N., which is a slight increase from 2009 and the majority sentiment for more than three decades.

While President George W. Bush placed protecting human rights and fostering liberty around the world as top US foreign policy goals, Americans rate it lower, which might explain their desire to let the UN handle those issues.

“Americans’ reluctance to go to war over human rights abuses leaves an opening for the United Nations to take on the task. Job ratings aside, American support for the U.N.’s role is not in question,” writes Scott Clement in Foreign Policy magazine.

Conversely, a Gallup poll shows that while overall attitudes toward American leadership remains largely unchanged, a decline has been seen among some foreign countries.

The survey found the 2011 median approval of 43 percent to be slightly lower than in 2010, suggesting the U.S. has lost some of its status.

“The image of U.S. leadership continued to be the strongest worldwide in Africa in 2011, bolstered by strong majority approval in sub-Saharan Africa. However, this strong support in the subcontinent is showing signs of weakening for the first time during the Obama administration. After two consecutive years of approval in the mid-80s, support across Africa dropped to a median of 74% in 2011,” Gallup reports.


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