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American Bar Association ICC Project Topline-2017-07-14 from abaiccproject

July 2017 Ipsos Polling Results

Recent poll shows continued growth in Americans' awareness of the International Criminal Court (ICC), support for US membership, and support for ICC casework. Most Americans also think terrorism should be fought with both the military and the courtroom.

Ipsos’ latest survey of Americans conducted for the American Bar Association’s International Criminal Court (ICC) Project shows a growing number of Americans who are knowledgeable about the International Criminal Court and its objectives. The online survey of 1,017 US adults also reveals many Americans’ perceptions of terrorists and the preferred tactics to combat terrorism.

Knowledge and Awareness of the ICC

Nearly half of Americans (47%) are now aware of the International Criminal Court, up from 40% when this tracking began in 2014. Despite this growing awareness, nearly four in ten Americans (38%) incorrectly assume the United States is a member of the International Criminal Court.

  • Awareness of the ICC is highest among millennials (age 18-34), where 60% have heard at least a little bit about it.
  • Millennials are nearly twice as likely to be aware of the ICC than Americans 55 years or older with only 34% having any awareness of the Court.

Perceptions of the Court’s Objectives

Americans continue to be very supportive of international organizations that support human rights and that hold individuals accountable for mass atrocities (70%). The belief it is important to help these organizations is especially strong among those aware of the ICC (79%).

  • A consistent majority of Americans have held this belief since this poll began in February 2014.
  • Support for international organizations that support human rights and hold individuals accountable for mass atrocities is strongest among those who believe the US should become more involved or fully join the ICC (89%).

A growing number of Americans believe we should dedicate US resources, including financial, military and intelligence, to international organizations that support human rights and that hold individuals accountable for mass atrocities.

  • Since February 2014, support for dedicating US resources has grown by 15 percentage points from 47% to 62%.
  • Similar to other International Criminal Court objectives, this belief is strongest among those who believe the US should become more involved or fully join the ICC (84%).

Perception of the Court and US Membership

Half of Americans (50%) believe the US should become more involved in or fully join the ICC, a sentiment that is especially strong among those who are aware of the ICC (64%).

  • One fifth of Americans (21%) believe the US should not join the ICC.
  • Men (55%) are more likely to support the US joining or becoming more involved in the ICC than women (45%).
  • Older Americans (55+ years) (40%), Americans without a college degree (41%) and those in the Midwest (43%) are less likely to favor increased involvement in the ICC.

Although an increased number of Americans believe the US should join the ICC, only a third of Americans (36%) believe the US should robustly support all of the work of the ICC as a full member. While low, this number has risen since February 2014 when only 22% agreed.

  • Similar to other statements on commitment to the ICC, this sentiment is supported most by young Americans (age 18-34), where nearly half agree (47%).
  • However, the idea that joining the ICC would compromise American sovereignty continues to attract some adherents, now at 30%. The sentiment is strongest among those who believe the US should not join the ICC (73%).

Perceptions of Terrorism

A majority of Americans (52%) and a majority of those who are aware of the ICC (53%) believe that the most effective way to combat terrorism is through a combination of military action and criminal prosecution in the courtroom. However, nearly one-fifth (18%) of those aware of the ICC report the most effective way to combat terrorism is treating terrorists as criminals and prosecuting them in a court of law – this compares to just one in ten (12%) of all Americans. One-fifth of Americans (20%) believe that the most effective way to combat terrorism is using military action with the goal of killing terrorists. This sentiment was shared equally by those aware of the ICC (21%).

  • Men (24%) were more likely than women (16%) to say that military action with the goal of killing terrorists is the most effective way to combat terrorism.
  • Millennials (20%) were more likely than those age 35-54 years old (11%) and those age 55 years or older (7%) to say that prosecuting terrorists as criminals in a courtroom was the most effective way to combat terrorism.

Nearly half of Americans (45%), including those aware of the ICC (49%), believe that terrorists should be described as an army of zealots, working to achieve a common, religious cause and who use violence to achieve their goals, compared to just under a quarter of Americans (22%) who believe terrorists are more accurately described as the mafia, because they are a network of criminals who conspire to commit crimes and who use violence to achieve their goals.

  • A majority of men (52%) share the belief that terrorists are more accurately described as an army of zealots, compared to just one-fifth (20%) of men who believe the mafia is a more accurate way to describe terrorists. Women are more likely to say that the terrorists should be described as the mafia and a network of criminals (25%) than an army of zealots (39%), however women are more likely to say they don’t know (19%) than men (14%).
  • Describing terrorists as an army of zealots, working to achieve a common, religious cause and who use violence to achieve their goals is favored by Americans age 55 years or older (51%) compared to their millennial counterparts (41%).

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 12-14, 2017 on behalf of the American Bar Association. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,017 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 506 adults at least aware of the International Criminal Court.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2013 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,017, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5).

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 5 percentage points for adults who are at least aware of the International Criminal Court.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

Quarterly Reports

February 2014 Ipsos Polling Results

Among Americans with knowledge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), desire for more support, but unsure if the U.S. should join the Court.


December 2014 Ipsos Polling Results

Americans continue to support involvement with the International Criminal Court (ICC), with some opposition to the U.S. becoming a full member of the Court.


April 2015 Ipsos Polling Results

Increases in Americans’ support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as some support for Palestinian membership in the Court.


November 2015 Ipsos Polling Results

Research finds a slow but steady trend over the past two years in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the International Criminal Court (ICC), with public support for international arrest warrants for Heads of State.


April 2016 Ipsos Polling Results

More Americans believe the United States should dedicate resources to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and broad American support for defining sexual violence as a war crime.


July 2016 Ipsos Polling Results

Polling shows improved awareness of the International Criminal Court (ICC), driven by awareness among youth, and public support for the US government encouraging ICC involvement in investigating and prosecuting atrocity crimes in Syria and Iraq.