This blog is hosted on Ideas on EuropeIdeas on Europe Avatar


UN budgets for 2018-19 : tracing decision-making across the UN system [regularly updated]

In our research on UN budgeting (results and early insights published for example here, here, here), we follow budget procedures throughout the UN system, in particular in the UN proper and in the Specialised Agencies of the UN. This post collects the most relevant documents, in particular UN system budget outlines, proposals, and final budgets adopted.

The document list below will be updated continuously throughout 2017 to help you follow UN’s regular budgeting like we do. We also follow the consequences of the Trump budget cuts on the UN for you.

UN Budgeting

Since UN budgets are under special scrutiny this year due to the Trump cuts announced earlier this month, I will help those of you interested to follow some of the procedures throughout this year.

The first and important insight from our ongoing research is that budget procedures in the UN system follow their own logic and timeline in each of the UN organisations, and few people actually follow them across the whole UN system.

Below you find budget proposals from UN specialised agencies, other UN entities, and the UN regular budget. They are order by the expected month in which they’ll typically be adopted by the main assemblies of the respective  UN organisations, usually for the next two years (= biennium). Once the budgets are officially adopted, I’ll also link to these versions.

I will update dates and add further organisations and additional documents in the coming weeks and months as these processes advance throughout 2017 and as I’m continuing our research.

Some organizations are missing because I simply haven’t added them to the list. Some of the organisations we study don’t actually provide updates on budgeting procedures on their websites. Others only provide final budgets or budget resolutions but not draft budgets, so it’s difficult to list those here.

One of the calls that I would have to the whole UN system is to make it easier for us, the public, to follow budgetary decision-making, for example by having dedicated budgeting and planning pages with all relevant documents, including for past years.

If you are interested in more details on our research on UN budgeting or if I’m missing something important in the list above, feel free to make me aware of it via Twitter or via email.


- on 29 March 2017 with the ILO budget adjustment document link

- on 12 April 2017 with the first section of the UN proposed budget for 2018-19 (UNRWA), on 20 April 2017 with the UNHCR budget section; on 21 April 2017 with the UN-Women budget section of the UN Regular Budget; on 22 April with Sec. 10; on 25 April with the ICJ and disarmament sections; 9 May with the Geneva and Vienna Offices budget plus Section 8+28., 14 May with UNEP and the Office of Central Support Services

- on 19 April 2017 with the timeline for  UN-Women, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA 

- on 25 April 2017 with the UNESCO draft budget

- on 26 April 2017 with the UN peacekeeping budget proposal for July 2017 to June 2018

- on 15 May with the WHO proposed programme and budget

on 5 June with the ILO draft programme and budget

- on 12 June with updates of the UN general budget sections published during the past weeks, the projections for the UNFPA and UN-Women integrated budgets, and the WIPO draft budget

- on 20 July with 2018-19 budget estimates of UN-Women; ILO budget resolution

- on  7 August with the UN budget 2018-19 introduction; draft integrated budget 2018-21 of UNICEF

Why the EU should start contingency-planning for Brexit budget cuts

I’ve just read Jon Worth’s blog post about why he’s calm about the start of the Article 50 negotiations that will most likely lead to Brexit, even if these negotiations are heading to a fight. After spending the best of my last three years researching budgeting in international organisations, including the effects of budget cuts on the EU and UN organizations, I think it’s important for the EU to do some serious contingency-planning ahead of this fight.

Here’s the sentence from Jon’s article that made me write this:

There are essentially two paths for the negotiations as I see it: towards conflict, or towards fudge. The former seems to be the more likely at the moment, with both sides shaping up for a fight over financial contributions and access to the Single Market.

I guess Jon is right, and even if the European Council President Tusk tweeted today that the “EU27 … will not pursue [a] punitive approach”, this does not mean that this will not end up in a punitive situation and a major fight.

One lesson from studying cutback management at EU-level and the budget cuts in the UN system, especially the reactions to massive cuts in UNESCO, has been that international organisations seem to avoid pre-planning for massive cuts until they are actually about to happen.

When, in 2010, the EU negotiations for the 2011 budget were at risk to break down for the first time since the 1980s, the European Commission staff had only weeks to figure out how they would handle the effective budget restrictions under the monthly emergency budgets. When the USA threatened massive budget cuts to UNESCO in case it would admit Palestine as a member in late 2011, internally no contingency plans were made not to give a sign that one could actually live with such cuts. In the EU case, everything went fine in the end, but not being prepared in the UNESCO for what was about to happen made a bad situation worse, in my view.

What’s the lesson to draw from this EU and UNESCO experience?

It should be part of the EU strategy – and the European Commission’s budget department is key in helping with this – to make clear  to the UK that it is ready to handle even a very painful refusal of the UK to provide its legacy contributions.

Some inside the EU institutions may say that this will give a bad signal to the UK, but experience shows that this may not prevent the worst from happening.

It is better if the Commission, and especially the member states, are ready to say to the UK: “If you don’t provide your legacy contributions, you will not have access to our single market. We are prepared to make our extra contributions to stabilise the EU budget if you stop paying or we are ready to make painful cuts to EU spending, but are you ready to have your market access cut, too?

For this strong hand to happen, it needs to be agreed, in advance, among EU member states, who would step in on their side to fill in the extra contributors if the UK doesn’t pay, and/or who would accept budget cuts – especially in agriculture and in regional/structural spending, the largest parts of the EU budget – in case this happens.

The best thing about developing these worst case scenarios and doing the contingency planning is that, should the Article 50 process run smoothly, suffering a little from the re-arranged EU budget (because this will necessary anyway) will seem much less painful than what the contingency planning suggested. But if the cut is hard, the EU will be prepared in advance and not spend a year with budget crisis management at the same time as the new multiannual financial framework needs to be put in place during 2019 and 2020.


Comments Off

Recent Articles

UN budgets for 2018-19 : tracing decision-making across the UN system [regularly updated]

Published on by | Comments Off
UN Budgeting

In our research on UN budgeting (results and early insights published for example here, here, here), we follow budget procedures throughout the UN system, in particular in the UN proper and in the Specialised Agencies of the UN. This post collects the most relevant documents, in particular UN system budget outlines, proposals, and final budgets adopted. The […]

(UPDATED) Consequences of the Trump budget cuts for the United Nations

Published on by | Comments Off
UN Voluntary Contributions by Organization

Today, the scale of the budget cuts of the Trump administration to the United Nations system has been officially announced; and this could be massive. According to various reports – Foreign Policy, Washington Post, IRIN News (great visuals!), CBS News, UN Dispatch, PassBlue, Al Jazeera  – up to 37% of the current US contributions to the UN cut be […]

Leaking in the European Commission: Is it in its DNA?

Published on by | Comments Off
EU Commission Leaks 2006-15_ronpatz

For a paper (SocArXiv preprint version) I am writing in the context of my research on EU leaks, I looked at all disciplinary proceedings against leakers in the European Commission from 2006 to 2015, as documented in the annual reports of the IODC, its internal investigation office. Here’s the data that I extracted from IODC’s annual […]

Political Science in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Published on by | Comments Off

Political science, probably like many other social sciences, seems stuck in an age that many of our students have never lived, and will never live. Our students live in an age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of problems that are far beyond local borders in a world dominated by thinking within borders. In this age, it is […]

EU leaks are back on the agenda – also in the Council

Published on by | Comments Off
Sources of leaks_p202

Yesterday, I was working on a new academic paper on how to do research on EU leaks. And then first the Greens presented their EUleaks platform and later EurActiv published this article about the new Commission anti-leak strategy. So below I publish an internal  Council document with its measures to prevent leaks. My interest on EU leaks […]

What a difference a Treaty makes: CFP reform debates in the 2000s and 2010s

Published on by | Comments Off

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my (past) obsession with the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) thanks to my PhD research on information flows in EU policy-making during the recent CFP reform. In a new paper posted on by titled “Exploring the Political Agenda of the European Parliament Using a Dynamic Topic Modeling Approach“, Derek […]

(S)electing the next Secretary-General of the United Nation: similar to the EU’s Spitzenkandidaten-process?

Published on by | Comments Off
Is Helen Clark a UN Spitzenkandidat(in)?

Two years ago, the European Union had its first true electoral campaign held in public for the selection of the EU’s chief administrator, the President of the European Commission. Now, although within a different institutional context, we witness a similar process in the United Nations: the first open nomination procedure for the next chief administrator […]

UACES and Ideas on Europe do not take responsibility for opinions expressed in articles on blogs hosted on Ideas on Europe. All opinions are those of the contributing authors.