As Americans say U.S. should be less engaged in global affairs, overwhelming support persists for acting through United Nations.

A new poll shows that, as the U.S. falls further behind on its dues to United Nations peacekeeping, two thirds of voters want the U.S. to both pay what is already owed, and meet commitments in the year to come.

“The U.S. is in the red on its UN peacekeeping dues, and voters say that’s a bad idea,” said Peter Yeo, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign. “Rather, Americans support full funding of the UN and recognize the benefits that stem from continued U.S. engagement in the world body.”

“In a climate of fiscal restraint, there is agreement across the political spectrum: The U.S. cannot bear all the burden or afford to go it alone around the world. As one respondent succinctly noted, ‘there’s more power in numbers.’”

While, the survey of 800 voters expressed a lowered desire for the U.S. to be involved in global challenges broadly, it showed strong support for the U.S. to continue engaging through the UN:

Sixty-one percent said “the United States needs to be less actively involved in world affairs because we need to focus more on issues here at home.”

However, at the same time:

  • 86 percent said that it is important “for the United States to maintain an active role within the United Nations;”
  • Two thirds agreed “working through the United Nations helps keep the United States strong and secure;” and
  • Seven in ten voters believe that “working through the UN to address and resolve international issues improves America’s image around the world.”

Moreover, Americans feel there are circumstances in which U.S. leadership abroad remains essential. When asked about U.S. international policy over the next five years, the most favorable approaches tested in the poll were “international cooperation” (71 mean score) and “America providing leadership and aid for international humanitarian crisis situations, such as the aftermath of natural disasters or countries emerging from civil war” (71 mean score).

“This is not about apathy to foreign policy or assistance — to the contrary, the poll shows voters feel a strong, vested interest in global affairs,” said Yeo. “However, at a time when Americans are concerned by so many issues, foreign and domestic, working through the UN is seen as a sensible and effective solution to addressing global challenges.”

The nationwide poll of voters was conducted April 12-17 by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates with a margin of error of ± 3.46 percent. Click here for an executive summary. Click here for full results.