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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 03:03 GMT
Poll shows backing for UN reform
Read key findings and see graphs about the BBC World Service poll on UN reform

There is overwhelming popular support for the UN to be reformed, according to a BBC World Service poll among the citizens of 23 countries.

They favoured a more powerful UN and backed the idea of adding Germany, India, Japan and Brazil to the organisation's Security Council.

Most wanted the Security Council to be able to override the veto power of the permanent members.

Just over 23,500 people were questioned for the survey, completed in January.

The proposal to expand the UN Security Council to include new permanent members was supported by a majority in 22 of the 23 countries.

'A stronger UN'

These included majority backing in four of the current permanent members, the US (70%), Britain (74%), France (67%) and China (54%).

Results suggest that the tight control of the United Nations by a few countries may soon be history
Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan
In Russia, the fifth permanent member, only 44% backed the idea of expansion.

An average of 69% of those questioned in the poll favoured enlargement of the Security Council, with the strongest support coming from Italy (86%), Canada (84%), Germany and Australia (both 81%).

Among the countries discussed as possible new members, Germany and Japan were especially popular.

Germany gets the nod in 21 nations, with an average of 56% across all countries.

In the two remaining countries, China and South Korea, opposition is attributed to a reluctance to expanding membership in principle.

An average of 54% supported Japan's membership, although support was low in Russia and South Korea and opposed by those questioned in China.

Heads of state of India, Japan, Brazil and Germany
India, Japan, Brazil and Germany won widespread support

In all countries but one, more people favour than oppose the idea of giving the UN Security Council the power to override the veto of a permanent member.

There was an overall average support of 58%, with 24% against.

Respondents said they wanted to see a UN becoming "significantly more powerful in world affairs", and registered an average support of 64%.

The poll of 23,518 people was conducted by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland.


"Results suggest that the tight control of the United Nations by a few countries may soon be history," said Doug Miller, president of GlobeScan.

"There is strong popular support for the democratisation of the UN system."

Edward Mortimer, the UN's director of communications, said: "It's gratifying that people in so many countries are interested in the United Nations."

French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said he was not surprised at the level of support.

"Everyone understands that, in a globalised world, it's logical that we have a universal entity."

Britain's ambassador, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, said the UK favoured UN reform, including "enlarging the Security Council as a key element".

Polling was conducted from 15 November 2004 to 5 January 2005.

In eight of the countries the sample was limited to major metropolitan areas.

The margin of error is between 2.5 and 4 points depending on the country.

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