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The UN: Good Idea, Bad Execution

by Ruy Teixeira

The public doesn’t appear to be too fond of the UN these days. In a recent Gallup poll, just 30 percent of the public said the UN was doing a good job “trying to solve the problems it has to face”. That’s a 6 point decline since last year and the second-worst rating ever for the institution.

On the other hand, there’s no evidence the public is giving up on the idea of the UN. In fact, while the UN’s job rating was declining in the last year, the public’s view of the role the UN should play was actually strengthening, as the proportion saying the UN should play a “leading role”, where all countries are required to follow UN policies, rose 5 percent (to 26 percent).

Another 42 percent say the UN should play a major role in setting global policy, for a total of 68 percent who want the UN to play a substantial role. Only 28 percent believe the UN should be relegated to a minor role as a forum for inter-country communication.

By these data, the public can be rated a strong supporter of the UN’s potential role in world affairs, but a strong critic of its current role. Perhaps future polling will tell us more about the origins of this disjuncture in public opinion.