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Posted Friday, May 11, 2007
Poll: Americans back U.N. permanent peacekeeping
By Sarah Dilorenzo, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS, May 11, 2007 - A global poll found solid support in the United States and several other countries for an expanded role for the world body in peacekeeping.

The poll done by WorldPublicOpinion.org reported that 72 percent of Americans said they would favor the creation of a standing U.N. peacekeeping force. The survey also found that 60 percent of Americans thought the U.S. should be more willing to make decisions within the U.N. system, even if that meant accepting a policy that was not its first choice.

GlobalPublicOpinion.org developed the poll, which the Chicago Council, a think tank, paid for in the U.S., India and China. Various polling partners conducted it in 14 other countries and the Palestinian territories, including Argentina, France, Iran, Israel, Russia and South Korea. The number of questions asked varied from country to country.

In most places, 800 to 2,000 people were surveyed, with fewer in less populous countries like Israel. The sampling error ranged from 2 to 4.1 percentage points.

Mexico expressed the greatest overall support for the U.N., with respondents giving the world body an average rating of 80 on a scale of 100. China was second at 75.4; followed by Armenia, 72.1; Thailand, 70.8; South Korea, 69.8, and India, 62.8. The lowest level of support for the U.N., though still a majority, was found in the Palestinian territories, 57.7; and the United States, 55.

In most of the countries surveyed, more than 60 percent supported a permanent U.N. peacekeeping force. Peru was the most supportive, with 77 percent responding favorably; the Philippines showed the least support, at 46 percent.

Similarly, public opinion in most countries supported intervention to end a government's support for terrorism or to defend a country that had been attacked, in both cases never falling below 60 percent.

In most countries, at least a plurality of respondents thought the U.N. Security Council should prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. South Korea and the Palestinian territories were the notable exceptions, where 55 and 59 percent, respectively, opposed such action to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Steven Kull, editor at WorldPublicOpinion.org, said the positive response showed that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was becoming "something like international law."

He said focus groups suggested that South Koreans generally felt they could best deal with their neighbor North Korea, which has delayed implementing a pledge to halt its nuclear weapons program. The Palestinian response may indicate a feeling that Islamic countries have the right to nuclear weapons, Kull said. Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, although it has never acknowledged it.

The Chinese, at 78 percent, and the French, at 68 percent, were the most supportive of solving international problems through the U.N. The Palestinians were the least convinced of relying on the organization, with 81 percent against including the world body in decision-making.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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