Africans strongly support military intervention authorised by the United Nations Security Council to stop serious abuses of human rights in their region, according to a just-released survey which also found that they prefer U.N. forces to those of the African Union (AU).
The survey of nearly 11,000 Africans from eight countries -- Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe -- found that about two-thirds of respondents agreed that the U.N. should have the right to intervene in such cases and that just over half agreed that intervention was justified even without the Security Council's authorisation.
The surveys, which were conducted by Globescan between late last year, were released here Wednesday along with a the results of a new poll of U.S. public opinion by the University of Maryland's Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) that also found continuing majority support for U.N. military intervention in Darfur, Sudan
"What is quite striking here is that even as the U.S. is tied down in Iraq and suffering daily casualties, a majority of Americans would support contributing troops to a multilateral operation in Darfur," said Steven Kull, PIPA's executive director. "This suggests that what is occurring there goes against strongly held values in the American public."
Support for U.N.-authorised intervention was strongest in Ghana (80 percent), Kenya (75 percent), Nigeria and Tanzania (66 percent), Zimbabwe (65 percent), and Cameroon (64 percent). In Angola, support for U.N. intervention was 55 percent, while in South Africa a plurality of 47 percent of respondents took the same view.
Overall, only 19 percent of respondents opposed U.N.-authorised intervention, although opposition was almost twice as high in Angola, at 37 percent, according to the Globescan survey.
Asked a choice of actors to intervene in conflicts "like Darfur," 30 percent of the African respondents said they preferred U.N. peacekeeping operations, while 22 percent opted for an AU force. Only five percent said they would prefer the intervention of a "rich" non-African nation, and seven percent they would support all three options
Thirteen percent of African respondents said they either opposed any foreign military intervention (11 percent) or no intervention at all (2 percent), while 24 percent expressed no opinion. The greatest number of people rejecting any foreign military option were found in the one Francophone country, Cameroon.
The preference for the United Nations, according to a Globescan analysis, reflected a broader confidence in the world body despite its mixed record in Africa in recent years. Overall, 69 percent of Africans polled said they have a lot or some trust in the U.N. to operate in the best interests of their society.
This was slightly higher than their confidence in the AU (63 percent), their national governments (59 percent), local governments (51 percent), and tribal councils (45 percent)
When compared with other recent polls on Darfur, the latest U.S. survey showed that public attitudes are affected by whether or not the violence amounts to genocide