U.S. Funding for the UN

Since its inception in 1945, the U.S. has been the UN’s largest financial contributor. As a permanent member of the Security Council and host of UN headquarters in New York City, the U.S. holds significant clout at the UN, and its leadership in providing financial support to the organization is a reflection of that influential role.

The fact is, from peacekeeping missions that promote stability in various parts of the world, to its work on nonproliferation, counterterrorism, and human rights, the UN is a force-multiplier for the U.S., addressing global challenges that the U.S. simply couldn’t confront alone.

How Funding is Structured

Funding from Member States for the UN system comes from two main sources: assessed and voluntary contributions.

Assessed contributions are payments that all UN Member States are required to make. These assessments provide a reliable source of funding to core functions of the UN Secretariat via the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets. In addition, the UN’s specialized agencies have their own assessed budgets.

Voluntary contributions are not obligatory, but instead left to the discretion of individual Member States. These contributions are vital to the work of the UN’s humanitarian and development agencies—including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and UN Population Fund (UNFPA), among others—which do not have assessed budgets.

Why should the U.S. pay its UN dues?

Strong and consistent U.S. engagement with the UN is critical to advancing our nation’s foreign policy, national security, economic, and humanitarian priorities. Here are a few reasons why it matters to pay UN dues on time and in full.

  • The UN is a bargain for U.S. taxpayers.

    While the UN’s work covers a broad array of issues and impacts U.S. interests in every corner of the globe, the total amount of U.S. contributions to the UN is a very small portion of our nation’s annual budget. Overall, only 1.4% of the federal budget is devoted to foreign aid, including contributions to the UN. Our peacekeeping and regular budget dues account for just 0.2% of the annual U.S. federal budget.

  • Peacekeeping missions advance U.S. national security.

    While the U.S. is the largest single contributor to the UN’s regular and peacekeeping budgets (learn more about the budget here), other UN member states pay the vast majority of costs associated with the activities funded by these assessments. Moreover, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the U.S. has final say over the size of the peacekeeping budget, since operations must be authorized, expanded, or withdrawn with U.S. consent.

    Peacekeeping missions are also extremely cost-effective, accounting for just 0.5% of all annual global military expenditures and 1% of America’s U.S. defense budget. And according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, peacekeeping missions are eight times cheaper than deploying U.S. forces.

  • Funding cuts to the UN compromise American leadership.

    When the U.S. fails to pay its peacekeeping and regular budget dues, it jeopardizes UN programs that are in our national interests, as well as negatively impacts our ability to advance the U.S. agenda at the UN. In order to continue reaping the benefits of engagement with the UN and influence the organization’s overall direction, it is critical that we make our dues payments on time and in full.

Recent Funding Levels for the UN (dollar amounts listed in the thousands)

CIPA$1,526,383 $2,701,032$1,498,614$1,481,915$1,940,702$2,877,834
CIO$1,526,383 $2,701,032$1,662,928$1,438,000$1,703,881$1,703,881
PKO$1,526,383 $2,701,032$455,000$460,759$420,458$563,120

Learn More

Foreign Currency

Understanding the Scales of Assessment: FAQs About the UN Budget

The Case for Paying UN Arrears

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UN Congress