November 19, 2009
Majorities or pluralities in all nations polled express support for the United Nations (UN) playing an active role in promoting human rights and reject the argument that this would be improper interference in the internal affairs of a country. Publics in most countries favor the UN playing a larger role than it presently does to promote human rights and favor giving it greater power to go into countries to investigate human rights abuses. Large majorities in nearly every country say that the UN should try to further women’s rights even when presented the argument that this would conflict with national sovereignty. When asked which should make the decision on matters related to human rights, more respondents prefer either the UN or regional organizations rather than national governments, though an average of four in ten respondents prefer national governments. Download full chapter (PDF).
The principle that individuals have a right to freedom of expression—including criticism of government and religious leaders—appears to be nearly universally supported by people throughout the world. However, when asked whether government should have the right to limit expression of certain political and religious views, the consensus is not as strong. While majorities in most countries say the government should not have such a right, in several countries a majority (and in another few a large minority) says that it should have such a right. At the same time there is widespread consensus that individuals should have the right to demonstrate peacefully against the government. Download full chapter (PDF).
Internationally there is robust support for the principle that the media should be free of government control and that citizens should even have access to material from hostile countries. With just a few exceptions, majorities say that the government should not have the right to limit access to the internet. But while most publics say the government should not have the right to prohibit publishing material it thinks will be politically destabilizing, in a significant minority of countries a majority of the respondents say that governments should have such a right. Download full chapter (PDF).
Publics around the world believe it is important for people of different religions to be treated equally. Majorities in most, but not all, nations affirm that followers of any religion should be allowed to assemble and practice in their country. At the same time, discomfort with proselytizing—trying actively to convert others to one’s own religion—is quite widespread. Majorities in more than half of the countries polled do not favor extending religious freedom to a right to proselytize. Download full chapter (PDF).
Large majorities in all nations support the principle that women should have “full equality of rights” and most say it is very important. Large majorities believe their government has the responsibility to seek to prevent discrimination against women. Large majorities in nearly every country polled favor the United Nations playing an active role in this agenda. Download full chapter (PDF).
Large majorities in all countries say people of different races and ethnicities should be treated equally. In nearly every country large majorities say that employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on race or ethnicity and that it is the government’s responsibility to stop this from happening. In general, large majorities agree that governments should take action to prevent racial discrimination. Download full chapter (PDF).
Large majorities support having international rules against torture. However, significant minorities favor making an exception in the case of terrorists who have information that could save innocent lives. Limited polling has found that views are more mixed on prohibiting threatening torture or treating detainees in a humiliating or degrading manner. Commanders are generally seen as responsible if their subordinates carry out torture. All countries polled disapprove of allowing the United States to use their airspace to conduct extraordinary renditions. Download full chapter (PDF).
Large majorities in every country say their government should be responsible to take care of the poor and for ensuring that citizens can meet their basic needs for food, healthcare, and education. However, there are wide variations in how people perceive their governments to be fulfilling these responsibilities. Download full chapter (PDF).
Micah Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate.
Issues and innovations in global economic development.
The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes. More
An authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies—and what the United States and others can do to help. More
A groundbreaking analysis of what the changes in American energy mean for the economy, national security, and the environment. More
This Independent Task Force report finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
This Independent Task Force asserts that Turkey is an increasingly influential regional and economic power and calls for the United States and Turkey to forge a new partnership.
The authors assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.
Special operations play a critical role in how the United States confronts irregular threats, but to have long-term strategic impact, the author argues, numerous shortfalls must be addressed.
This volume brings together a broad range of Foreign Affairs content to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Samuel Huntington’s classic article “The Clash of Civilizations?” More
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Mark Lagon advocates an internationally recognized "broader concept of human dignity."
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, released an interim report on his study of drone strikes...
On the International Day of the Girl, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon revisits statistics surrounding child marriage in 2013.
Rachel B. Vogelstein, CFR's fellow for women and foreign policy, discusses the link between U.S. foreign policy and the rights of women and...