New research released from the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Campaign claims that Americans’ favorable rating of the institution has risen to 60%. Some additional findings:

  • Two-thirds of Americans (67%) believe the United Nations is still needed today; majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans agree with this assessment.
  • Voters continue to be concerned about the personal impact of international issues and how international issues abroad will affect them here in the United States.
  • There has been a positive shift in public perception of how the United States is viewed by other countries under President Obama’s administration. In September 2007 78% of voters said the United States is “less respected by other countries,: today the percentage has dropped to 60%.
  • Although roughly nine out of ten Americans (89%) say they are not familiar with the specifics of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), after hearing a brief description of the eight goals, 87% of Americans believe the United States should be very (43%) or somewhat (44%) involved in a worldwide effort to accomplish the MDGs by 2015.
  • The majority of Americans believe seven of th eight MDGs should be an absolute top or high priority to accomplish by 2015. When asked to choose which MDG is most important to accomplish Americans chose those goals that address the most basic human needs for survival: access to safe drinking water (47%) and alleviating extreme hunger/poverty (36%).

source: United Nations Foundation website

We have made some progress towards achieving the MDGs, but there remains so much to be done. And let’s not forget about other clearly global challenges like nuclear weapons and climate change. We need effective global institutions that can adequately address global issues.

What do you think about the UN? Is it effective? What role should it play? And what can students do to engage with this seemingly massive institution?