Global Issues >> Globalization
Human Rights and the
An overwhelming majority believes protecting human rights
should be a high priority for the UN system. A modest majority
has supported the US ratifying UN human rights treaties, with
a small minority opposed.
Asked how high a priority "protection of human rights"
should be for "the UN system," an overwhelming majority
of 78% said that it should be a "high priority."
Just 17% said it should be "somewhat of a priority"
and only 4% said it should not be a priority (Wirthlin, April
A strong majority supports spending the amount of money the
UN currently spends on human rights. Wirthlin asked whether
"the United States and other UN member countries should
provide the United Nations with more money than it has now
to... monitor violations of human rights throughout the world...or
less money, or are they providing the UN with the right amount
of money now for the purpose?" Only 20% favored spending
less money, while 30% favored spending more money and 36%
favored the present level (December 1995). 
This sanguine feeling about the current level of spending
is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Americans
tend to assume that the UN budget is far greater than it really
is (see Strengthening the UN).
A March 1992 Roper poll asked about whether the US should
ratify UN human rights treaties. Respondents heard a rather
extensive description of the issue:
Over many years the U.N. (United Nations) has produced treaties
to protect human rights, which most countries have ratified.
Some people say the United States should ratify these treaties
because it would show we support worldwide standards of human
rights and because it would increase the pressure on other
governments to abide by them. Other people say the U.S. should
not ratify these treaties because they might require changes
in U.S. law and practices and because other countries would
then have the right to question human rights conditions in
the United States. Do you think the U.S. should or should
not ratify the U.N. human rights treaties?
A modest majority of 51% said that the US should ratify the
treaties, while just 21% said it should not. Many were still
uncertain, with 29% saying they did not know.