from International Institutions and Global Governance Program

World Opinion on Violent Conflict

August 12, 2009

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

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Wars and Conflict

Polls and Public Opinion

This page is part of Public Opinion on Global Issues. Download this chapter (PDF) or read more about U.S. opinion on violent conflict.

This publication is now archived.

The Use of Force

In international polls most, but not all, publics say that force is sometimes necessary to maintain order in the world. European publics tend to think that their countries should be emphasizing a non-military role in international affairs. However, they express willingness to contribute forces to a wide range of possible multilateral operations. Download full chapter (PDF).

The UN Security Council and the Use of Force

International polls find that the UN Security Council (UNSC) is widely seen as having the right to authorize the use of force to prevent and respond to violent conflict in a variety of contingencies: to defend a country that has been attacked, to prevent severe human rights violations such as genocide, to stop a country from supporting terrorist groups, and to restore by force a democratic government that has been overthrown. Download full chapter (PDF).

UN Responsibility to Protect

International polls find the UN Security Council is widely seen as having not only the right, but the responsibility to authorize the use of military force to prevent severe human rights violations. Download full chapter (PDF).

UN Role in Peacekeeping

In principle, large majorities around the world favor a standing peacekeeping force selected, trained, and commanded by the United Nations. Majorities in most countries want peacekeeping policy to be decided at the United Nations than decided either by national governments or by regional organizations. Download full chapter (PDF).

Participation in Military Operations to Prevent and Respond to Violent Conflict

Majorities in the United States, European countries, and to some extent elsewhere, approve of participating in peacekeeping missions in principle. As a general rule, support is strong for participation in post-conflict situations and less consistent when it comes to intervening in civil conflict. Publics in Europe and the United States have in recent years supported participation in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and southern Lebanon. Among other countries, support for participation in the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon has been mixed. Download full chapter (PDF).

War in Afghanistan

Most people around the world think it would be bad if the Taliban were to regain power, but views are now divided on NATO’s Afghanistan mission. A plurality favors ending the mission, but this appears to be based on a widespread belief that the Afghans want NATO to leave. Most Europeans oppose increasing combat troops above current levels, but withdrawal does not get majority support. Among Americans, reducing troop levels does not get majority support, and withdrawal is likewise rejected. Download full chapter (PDF).

Intervention in Darfur

Internationally, views have been mixed as to whether the United Nations has the responsibility, rather than simply the right, to intervene in Darfur. Approximately half of the countries polled expressed a readiness to contribute troops to an international force to stop the killing, and a large majority of Europeans polled expressed a readiness to contribute troops to a humanitarian operation in Darfur. Muslim countries polled expressed confidence that such an intervention could be effective. A poll of African countries expressed support for either the United Nations or the African Union intervening in a situation like Darfur. Download full chapter (PDF).

The Responsibility to Participate in NATO and EU Military Operations

When NATO decides to take a military action, U.S. and European publics think that all NATO members should contribute troops and if not, then they should at least contribute financially (though Eastern European countries are more mixed on both of these questions). Most EU publics do not think that an EU decision to take military action creates an imperative for a member country to participate. Download full chapter (PDF).

Perceived Effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping Operations

On average, a slight majority of the publics of Cambodia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Abkhazia, Lebanon, Somalia, and Georgia said they found the peacekeeping operations in their countries in the 1990s to have been effective. Publics in the permanent members of the UN Security Council offered similar assessments. Download full chapter (PDF).

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Wars and Conflict

Polls and Public Opinion


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