The UN budget process can be divided into three main categories: the UN regular budget, the Peacekeeping budget and voluntary contributions.
The UN Regular Budget and Payments to Specialized Agencies
The UN Regular Budget finances the core bodies and activities of the UN, including political missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and Burundi that are directly in our national interests and working to promote stability in key regions of the world.
The current payment structure for UN Regular Budget dues sets maximum (22%) and minimum (.001%) rates for all nations based on their ability to pay. The U.S. pays the maximum rate and has negotiated several reductions in this rate over time, most notably from 25% to 22%. The assessment rate is primarily determined by gross national income, and since the U.S. has one of the highest in the world, its dues assessments are higher than those of other Member States.
The U.S. contribution to the UN regular budget is included in the State Department’s Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account. In addition to the regular budget, the CIO account covers dues payments to more than 40 other international organizations, including NATO, and UN specialized agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Peacekeeping Budget
The UN funds its peacekeeping budget with assessments on member states similar to those made for the regular budget, but with greater discounts for poorer countries. The resulting funding deficit is compensated for by the five permanent members (P5) of the Security Council—the U.S., UK, France, Russia, and China. Under this formula, the U.S. is supposed to pay 28% of the peacekeeping budget – a level we agreed to pay and voted for in 2012.
“In a climate of fiscal restraint, there is agreement across the political spectrum: The U.S. cannot bear all the burden or afford to go it alone around the world. Rather, an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize the benefits that stem from continued U.S. engagement in the United Nations.” – Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign
Peacekeeping assessment rates are renegotiated at the UN every three years, so the rate paid by the U.S. and all other UN member states changed at the beginning of 2016. Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided under the State Department’s Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account.
Since the Permanent Five (P5) each have a veto over Security Council decisions, no new or expanded peacekeeping missions can advance without U.S. consent. While this unique responsibility for establishing and renewing missions means the U.S. pays a greater portion of the bill, the vast majority of personnel deployed on these missions come from developing countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Jordan, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Unlike dues payments, voluntary contributions are entirely left to the discretion of individual member states. These contributions finance UN humanitarian relief and development agencies, which in turn help advance critical U.S. foreign policy priorities that would be difficult, if not impossible, for the U.S. to undertake alone. Voluntary contributions help pay to:
- Provide lifesaving food aid to more than 80 million people in 75 countries;
- Strengthen democratic institutions and empower civil society in emerging democracies;
- Immunize children around the world against deadly diseases like polio and measles;
- Assist nearly 60 million people around the world displaced by armed conflict; and,
- Tackle the AIDS pandemic.