The YouGov Big Survey on NATO and war: The role of the United Nations in preventing war

Milan DinicDirector - Content Strategy and Innovation
June 10, 2024, 2:53 PM GMT+0

The American public is split on whether the U.N. has or has not been effective in preventing wars and whether it should have more influence in the future, the YouGov Big Survey of NATO and War finds. Results also show a large partisan gap in views about the role and the future of the U.N.

The United Nations was created in 1945 when the U.N. Charter — the organization’s founding document — was adopted. The first line of the Charter says the U.N. was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”

Fewer than half of Americans (46%) think the U.N. is very or somewhat effective in preventing wars around the world, including just 13% who consider it to be “very effective.” Four in ten (41%) say it’s ineffective, including 16% who think it’s “not effective at all.”

The older Americans are, the less likely they are to show faith in the U.N.: 34% of Americans 60 and older say it’s effective in preventing wars, compared to 58% of adults under 40.

Joe Biden's and Donald Trump's supporters have notable differences on this topic: Biden supporters are nearly twice as likely as Trump supporters to say the U.N. has been effective at preventing wars (60% vs. 35%). Compared to Biden supporters, Trump supporters are three times as likely to say the U.N. is “not effective at all” when it comes to preventing wars (8% for Biden supporters vs. 29% for Trump supporters).

When it comes to the influence the U.N. has on member countries, one-third of Americans (34%) say it should have more influence than now, while one-quarter (24%) think it should have less. One in five (22%) think U.N. powers should remain as they are now, while about as many (20%) say they don’t know.

Registered voters who intend to vote for Biden in the election are twice as likely as Trump supporters to say they’d like to see the U.N. have more influence (50% vs 24%). Meanwhile, 42% of Trump supporters want the U.N. to become less influential, about four times the share of Biden supporters who feel the same way (11%).

While the U.N. has the right to request the use of the military forces of its members for armed missions around the world, the organization itself does not have a standing army or military force.

Americans are split on whether they’d support the formation of a U.N. army: 34% are in favor but 33% are against, and one-third (33%) say they don’t know.

In this case, as well, Biden supporters (49%) are significantly more in favor than Trump supporters (26%) of the creation of a U.N. army.

— David Montgomery contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on March 18 - 27, 2024 among 2,217 U.S. adults. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of U.S. adults. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education. The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 2%.

Image: Getty (Michael M. Santiago / Staff)

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