Global Policy Forum

UN Finance

Picture Credit: UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $30 billion each year, or about $4 for each of the world's inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is less than three percent of the world's military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced financial difficulties and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas, even as new mandates have arisen. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN's voluntary funds. As of December 31, 2010, members' arrears to the Regular Budget topped $348 million, of which the US owed 80%.

This site provides extensive information on the UN's finances.  A section on Background Information and Analysis on UN Finance provides a history of UN finance and a chronology of the UN financial situation.

Our sections on General Analysis, UN Documents on UN Finance and articles on Financing of UN Programs, Funds and Specialized Agencies on the Financing of the UN Development System will help to provide a broader understanding of UN finance issues. To see UN finance in a comparitive perspective, click here.

A series of Tables and Charts map the financial details with world-class data.  There are monthly updated tables and charts on member states' assesments, payments and debts to the UN budget. This section includes also data on the funding of UN programs, funds and specialized agencies as well as the systemwide budget.

Peacekeeping Finance represents a large part of the UN budget, with a US$7.06 billion annual budget for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.  We have gathered here extensive information, and prepared a number of valuable Tables and Charts on Peacekeeping Operations.

Many proposals for UN reform call for better budgeting, better financial oversight and more efficient use of funds.  The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly wrestles with the different priorities of member states and clashes over the level of dues that members must pay.  Some reformers suggest that the UN should seek Alternative Financing (not just dues and voluntary contributions) to fund its programs. A global tax on currency or financial transactions, a carbon tax or taxes on the arms-trade might provide such revenue. But states are jealous of their taxing powers and not keen to transfer such authority to the UN.

We also provide Links and Resources here.


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