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Reforming the UN Security Council

Americans support substantial reforms of the UN Security Council. A large majority favors additional countries becoming permanent members of the UN Security Council; with majorities favoring adding Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil, and a plurality favoring adding South Africa. Most dramatic, a majority says that the UN Security Council should have the capacity to override the veto of a permanent member, including the US.

Americans are largely in support of reforming the UN Security Council by adding more countries as permanent members. A BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA poll from December 2004 found a large majority (70%) that favored additional countries becoming permanent members of the Security Council, without specifying which countries would be added. Only 23% were opposed.[1]

When given various specific countries as candidates for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, majorities also express support for adding Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil, with a plurality favors adding South Africa as well. Asked by the Chicago Council in July 2006, the greatest majority believed Japan should be added (66%) followed by Germany (62%). Slight majorities also favored adding India (53%) and Brazil (52%), with a plurality favoring the addition of South Africa (45%). All these numbers are consistent with the results from when BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA asked these same questions in December 2004.[2]

However, a majority of Americans does not believe that the permanent seats of the United Kingdom and France on the UN Security Council should be replaced by a single seat for the European Union. When the German Marshall Fund asked this question in May 2005, 55% said they strongly (34%) or somewhat (21%) disagreed with this proposal, while just 36% agreed.[3]

Perhaps the most radical change to the Security Council that Americans would support is empowering the Council to override the veto of a permanent member. Presented this potential change in the December 2004 BBC/GlobeScan/PIPA poll, 57% favored the change “so that if a decision was supported by all the other members, no one member, not even the United States, could veto the decision.” Just one third (34%) were opposed to the change.[4]



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