Empowering the UN in Fighting
A very large majority of Americans favors having the
UN play a greater role in the fight against terrorism,
including strengthening the role of international law
and enhancing intelligence cooperation. 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.
Americans see the UN as playing an important role in the fight against terrorism and would like to see it play larger role than it has.
In an October 2006 WPO poll 71% said that the US should
put a greater priority on, “Working through the
UN to strengthen international laws against terrorism
and make sure UN members cooperate in enforcing them.”
Just 13% favored putting a lesser priority and 14% the
same level of priority.
A July 2004 Chicago Council poll asked about eleven
different measures for combating international terrorism.
The one that received the highest level of support was—endorsed
by 87%—was “Working through the UN to strengthen
international laws against terrorism and to make sure
UN members enforce them.” In 2002 the Chicago
Council found 88% support for this approach.
A September 2003 PIPA poll found 76% favored putting
a high priority on "Setting up a UN database of terrorists
to which all countries would contribute."
Shortly after 9/11 a series of polls found overwhelming
support for the UN playing a key role. In a September
14-18, 2001 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, 90% said that they
favored (70% 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).
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.
Similarly, Harris found (also in November 2001) a very strong 71% majority thinking that "In order to prepare for a possible future international terrorist attack
the United Nations should be given broader powers that would force member countries to work together to fight terrorism." 
Trying Terrorists Before International Judicial Bodies
Support has also been quite strong for using international
judicial bodies for trying terrorists. In the June 2004
Chicago Council poll that asked about a number of measures
for combating international terrorism, 82% favored,
"Trial of suspected terrorists in an International Criminal
Polls taken immediately after 9/11 also showed such
support. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken September
12, 2001 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."
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).