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April 5, 2007

International and Armenian Public Charge UN With Responsibility to Protect Against Genocide

Large Numbers Open to UN Intervention in Darfur

French and Americans Ready to Contribute Troops to Darfur Peacekeeping Operation

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a roundtable discussion to present the results of the third in a series of reports based on a poll of worldwide opinion on key global issues. The report was devoted to the United Nations' role in genocide prevention and possible intervention in Darfur. The meeting brought together citizens, members of leading think tanks, analysts, and media representatives.

ACNIS director of research Stepan Safarian delivered opening remarks. “Regrettably, people in different corners of the world are still being annihilated, deprived of their homeland, and subjected to genocide,” he said. “At the turn of the 20th century—during the reign of the Ottoman and Young Turk governments—the Armenians, their historic homeland suffered greatly as a consequence of genocide. Since this crime against humanity was not prevented at the time, and the Armenian Genocide still awaits international recognition, the very same transgression now continues against other nations and races. Therefore, genocide prevention by means of humanitarian intervention is imperative.” ACNIS analyst Syuzanna Barseghian then presented survey results.

Publics around the world say the United Nations has the responsibility to protect people from genocide and other severe human rights abuses even if this means acting against the will of their own government, according to a multinational study.

Large numbers are open to UN intervention in Darfur, where Arab militias linked to the Sudanese government are accused of massacring the civilian population. But many seem to be uninformed about the situation in Western Sudan and declined to answer.

Support for action to halt genocide is consistent with the final document endorsed by the 2005 United Nations World Summit, which recognized that the world body has a “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations from “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” should national authorities fail to do so.

“There seems to be a world-wide consensus that the UN Security Council has a responsibility to act to protect populations against genocide,” said Steven Kull, editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org. “It also seems that, to the extent that people are aware of the situation in Darfur, most believe that the United Nations has the right, if not the responsibility to intervene there.”

This is the third in a series of reports based on the findings of a larger survey, analyzing attitudes on key international issues, conducted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and WorldPublicOpinion.org, in cooperation with polling organizations around the world. The larger study includes 18 countries—China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Russia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Israel and Armenia—plus the Palestinian territories. Not all questions were asked in all countries.

UN Security Council Action

Respondents in 12 countries were asked whether the UN Security council has the “responsibility to authorize the use of military force to protect people from severe human rights violations, such as genocide, even against the will” of the government committing such abuses. The most common response in all 12 countries polled on this question is that the UN Security Council has a responsibility to authorize the use of military force in such cases.

The Chinese public shows the highest level of support for the idea that the United Nations has a responsibility to intervene (76%), followed by the United States (74%), the Palestinian territories (69%) and Israel (64%). The lowest levels of support are in Ukraine (40%), Thailand (44%), Russia (48%), and Argentina (48%). But the proportions in these four countries that say the UN Security Council does not have such a responsibility ranged between only 16 to 31 percent. A majority of Armenians believe the UN Security Council has the responsibility to authorize the use of military force to stop crimes such as genocide. Although Armenians tend to favor action in Darfur, large numbers are uncertain. Two-thirds of Armenians (66%) feel that the UN Security Council has the responsibility to approve military intervention to protect people from severe human rights violations “even against the will of their government.” Only 16 percent think it does not and 19 percent decline to answer.

“What is remarkable is the degree of international agreement—across countries with very different approaches to human rights issues—on the need for UN-authorized military action,” said Christopher Whitney, executive director for studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.


In the 10 countries asked specifically about international intervention in Darfur, most of those who answer indicate that they are open to U.N. action to stop the killing. In all countries the most common response is that the Security Council has at least the right to authorize intervention in Darfur and many say it has the responsibility to act. But large numbers did not respond suggesting many are uninformed about the conflict in Sudan.

Support for UN action is highest in France where 84 percent say the Security Council has either the “responsibility” to authorize intervention in Darfur (55%) or the “right” (29%) to do so. Close behind is the United States where 83 percent say the Security Council has either the “responsibility” (48%) or the “right” (35%) to intervene. Israelis (77%) are the next most likely to favor UN action with 46 percent saying it has the responsibility to act and 31 percent saying it has the right to do so. Forty-four percent of Armenians believe that the UN Security Council has either the responsibility to authorize intervention to stop the killings in Darfur (29%) or the right to do so (15%). Only 9 percent think it does not have this right. “Nearly half (46%) of those polled declined to answer, however, which suggests many Armenians are uninformed about the situation in western Sudan,” the report mentions.

Respondents in seven countries were also asked whether they thought their country should contribute troops to “an international peacekeeping force to stop the killing in Darfur.” A very large majority of the French (84%) support contributing troops to a peacekeeping force in Darfur. Among Americans 65 percent approve the idea and just 28 percent are opposed. Armenians tend to be against sending their own troops to join an international peacekeeping force in Darfur. By a margin of 45 percent to 27 percent, Armenians oppose participating in such a mission (28 percent declined to answer).

For details, please see www.thechicagocouncil.org  or www.worldpublicopinion.org. WorldPublicOpinion.org is a publication of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. For the Armenian version, visit www.acnis.am.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2006, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call
(37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

Related Links

The Armenian version of the press release:

Armenian version

Full Report (PDF-format, 492 KBytes)

Questionnaire ( PDF-format, 85 KBytes)

Methodology/Research Partners ( PDF-format, 89 KBytes)

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