Poll: UN Reputation Intact, Global Demand for Better Cooperation

People around the world want more and better international cooperation.

Climate change, inequality, Covid-19 – there are many reasons to argue that the world is in crisis and international cooperation along with it. But is it too early to throw in the towel?

Recent polling by FES New York and YouGov suggests that despite an unprecedented crisis of global health, the reputation of the United Nations (UN) is largely intact, and global support for international cooperation is strong. The online survey, conducted in 12 countries across 5 continents, finds that the world not only has mostly favorable views of the UN but also trusts it more than many other political actors.

While enjoying a moderately positive standing in countries like the US, France, and Germany, the UN garners particularly strong support in countries of the Global South, such as Mexico, India, Indonesia, and a staggering 90 percent approval rating in Kenya.

In a remarkable finding, the oft-criticized World Health Organization (WHO) has the strongest reputation of all international organizations featured in the survey. As 62 percent of respondents hold favorable views of the WHO – an agency within the UN system – the survey highlights a complex constellation of frequently diverging expert- and public opinions.

It’s not all fun and games for the UN, of course. While generally agreeing that the UN serves important purposes like promoting human rights, only 46 percent of respondents believe that it can effectively address the world’s problems. Concerns about countries giving up national sovereignty to the UN are similarly common. Interestingly, such doubts about the UN’s efficacy do not translate into widespread support for alternative institutions – only 29 percent of respondents advocate for this.

And yet, despite the challenges, the survey’s results tell a tale of optimism. As respondents overwhelmingly agree that better international relations are vital to the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, 74 percent say their country should prioritize better relations with its neighbors, and 73 percent of respondents call for better relations with the global community. As the pandemic has laid bare the fragilities within countries and between them, it is up to leaders everywhere to heed that call.

Download the report below. 

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