The United Nations headquarters in New York City.
The United Nations headquarters in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
A chart showing that most people give the UN positive ratings across the countries surveyed.

As global leaders descend on New York in the coming days for the annual United Nations General Assembly, international attitudes toward the world’s leading multilateral organization are largely positive. Across 19 advanced economies surveyed by Pew Research Center this spring, a median of 65% say they have a favorable view of the UN. Still, the institution gets mixed reviews in a few nations, and it is frequently less popular among those on the political right.

Majorities in 16 of the surveyed nations give the UN a favorable rating, and it receives particularly high marks in Poland, South Korea and Sweden, where eight-in-ten or more hold this view. The three countries where fewer than half of adults see the UN favorably are Greece, Japan and Israel – only 26% of Israelis give it a positive rating.

In the United States, the UN gets generally favorable reviews, with 61% of Americans offering a positive opinion. However, there are sharp differences along ideological lines: Eight-in-ten liberals rate the organization favorably, while just four-in-ten conservatives say the same.

How we did this

This Pew Research Center analysis focuses on opinion of the United Nations in 19 countries, including the United States. For non-U.S. data, this post draws on nationally representative surveys of 20,944 adults from Feb. 14 to June 3, 2022. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Surveys were conducted face to face in Hungary, Poland and Israel and online in Australia. For more, see the Australia methodology.

In the U.S., we surveyed 3,581 adults from March 21 to 27, 2022. Everyone who took part in the U.S. survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses. Visit our methodology database for more information about the survey methods outside the U.S. For respondents in the U.S., read more about the ATP’s methodology.

A chart showing that in many countries, those on the ideological left are more likely to have a favorable view of the UN.

Although the U.S. has the largest ideological divide among the countries in the survey, significant ideological differences exist in other nations, too. For example, the UN isn’t very popular among any ideological groups in Israel, but it is especially unpopular on the right. Among Israelis who place themselves on the ideological right, just 16% see the UN favorably. Significant gaps between the left and right are also found in Canada, Hungary, Australia, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Poland.

Greece is the only country where the pattern is reversed. Half of Greeks on the political right and 49% of those in the center see the UN favorably, while just 32% of those on the left agree.

In several European countries, supporters of right-wing populist parties are especially likely to express a negative opinion of the UN. For instance, 44% of Germans with a favorable view of Alternative for Germany (AfD) have an unfavorable opinion of the UN, compared with 21% of Germans who do not support AfD.

A chart showing that younger people are more positive toward the UN than their older counterparts in many countries.

There are also significant differences by age in eight of the countries surveyed, with those ages 18 to 29 expressing particularly positive views about the UN.

While this year’s survey focused mostly on Europe, Asia and North America, previous surveys showed mostly positive ratings for the UN in regions not represented in the 2022 poll, such as Africa and Latin America.

Previous research has also shed light on some of the reasons why people generally hold the UN in high regard. In a 14-nation study in 2020, the UN received widespread praise for pursuing a variety of goals. For instance, majorities in every country said the UN promotes human rights and peace. In most countries, majorities also said the UN promotes economic development, action on infectious diseases and action on climate change. However, the survey also found that many criticize the UN for being out of touch and ineffective: A median of 53% of those polled said the UN cares about the needs of ordinary people and only 51% said it deals effectively with international problems.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Sept. 17, 2021. Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses. Visit our methodology database for more information about the survey methods outside the U.S. For respondents in the U.S., read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Richard Wike  is director of global attitudes research at Pew Research Center.