A new poll finds that Americans’ support for the United Nations has reached its highest point in five years.  The research, conducted last month by pollsters Bill McInturf, Liz Harrington and Geoff Garin, finds that 60% of the survey respondents had a positive attitude about the UN.   This marks a fairly rapid rise in the UN’s favorability ratings. In October, a similar poll found that the UN’s image was 50% favorable/36% unfavorable.  The poll also found that 2/3rds of Americans believe that the United Nations is still needed today– this includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

What is to account for Americans’ warming attitudes toward UN? The survey credits a “very positive news environment around the UN providing humanitarian relief during natural disasters around the world.” In other words, when a crisis hits and people’s attention is drawn to the UN’s humanitarian response, they generally like what they see. It would seem the earthquake in Haiti provided the American public with a glimpse into how the UN works —  and Americans overwhelmingly approved.  

The poll also surveyed Americans’ attitudes toward the Millennium Development Goals. Not surprisingly, nine out of ten Americans have never heard of them. But according to the poll, “after hearing a brief description of the eight goals, 87% of Americans believe the United States should be very (43%) or somewhat (44%) involved in a worldwide effort to accomplish the MDGs by 2015.”  A majority of those surveyed said that seven of the eight MDGs should be a top priority for the United States..  Americans’ strongest preference was for increasing access to safe drinking water, followed closely by decreasing child mortality, cutting in half the number of people who live in extreme poverty and face hunger and increasing girls’ access to education. 

The poll was commissioned by the UN Foundation, which supports this blog. The full results will be available at the UN Foundation’s website at 10 am. Stay tuned!

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