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Empowering the UN in War on Terrorism
An overwhelming majority favors having the UN playing a stronger role than it has in the fight against terrorism, including strengthening international laws on terrorism and the means to enforce them. Overwhelming majorities support the UN Security Council being able to require UN members to allow a UN-sponsored police force to enter countries and conduct investigations, to freeze the assets of suspected terrorist groups, to provide intelligence on them, to arrest them, and if the member country refuses to do so, to send in an international military force to capture suspected terrorists. A strong majority favors using international judicial bodies for trying terrorists, with a plurality even favoring trying bin Laden before an International Criminal Tribunal over a federal court in New York.

An overwhelming majority favors a much stronger role for the United Nations in the fight against terrorism. In a September 14-18 Associated Press poll, an extraordinary 90% said that the United Nations should "play a major role in pulling countries together to fight against terrorism." On November 1-4, 85% said that they favored (67% strongly) "working through the UN to strengthen international laws against terrorism and to make sure UN members cooperate in enforcing them" (PIPA, November 1-4). [1]

Perhaps most striking, strong to overwhelming majorities favor the UN Security Council having extensive powers to make demands on member states or to intervene in their territory in the effort to track down terrorist groups (see below from PIPA, November 1-4). While the UN Charter has language that gives the UN Security Council broad powers, in practice exercising such powers would break new ground. [2]


Trying Terrorists Before International Judicial Bodies

Support is also very strong for working through the World Court. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken September 12, respondents were asked to evaluate a list of possible responses by the US to the September
11 attacks. Seventy-five percent favored (62% strongly, 13% somewhat) "build[ing] a case against the people who are specifically responsible and seek[ing] justice in the World Court."[3]

A 1998 poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations also asked respondents to consider a number of options "to combat terrorism." The most popular option, endorsed by 84%, was "trial of suspected terrorists in an International Criminal Court."[4]

Perhaps most dramatically, although the September 11 attack was against US territory, if Osama Bin Laden were captured a 49% plurality would favor trying him in an international criminal tribunal, while 44% would prefer to try him in a federal court in New York (PIPA November 1-4). [5]



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