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The budget of the United Nations (UN) system: latest figures and research

For my ongoing coverage of the budget procedures in the UN system for  2018-19 (or 2018-21), please follow the link.

Finding reliable figures on the budgets and finances of the United Nations (UN) system is not easy, unless you know where to look for them. I’ll try to present some of this below and also bring you up-to-date on my research on budgeting and resourcing in international organizations.

First, a lot of the older UN budget data has been gathered by the Global Policy Forum, especially thanks to the help of Klaus Hüfner.

On the websites of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (UNSCEB), basically the body where the heads of all UN agencies and body coordinate, there are all kinds of UN system financial data, including in reusable (csv) formats for the years starting in 2010. Note that this data is annual although most UN budgets are biennial or, in some cases, even longer.

UN System Revenue 2014-15

The UNSCEB (and its predecessor called ACC) have also been issuing reports on the financial situation of the UN system since the early 1990s, with the oldest reports including data going back to 1983. The latest report for the budget period 2014-15 has just been published at the end of October, and the figures above are from this report.* This data allows for very interesting visualisation of the complex resource flows in the UN system (and this is only the simple version found in A/72/6 (Introduction)

2017_UN System Financing by Revenue and Theme


My own research project in which we study UN budgeting and budget administration continues. We have just published a chapter titled “Changing Budgeting Administration in International Organizations” in the edited volume “International Bureaucracy” and are working on a special issue following our workshop on “Resourcing International Organizations” here in Munich. More is to come on the United Nations in the coming weeks and months.

If you also work on budgeting of international organizations or the questions related to resource matters in the UN system, in regional organizations or in other types of IOs, you can join our panel “Budget Formulation, Budget Administration and the Politics of Resourcing International Organizations” at the ICPP in Singapur in June 2017 (deadline of the CfP is in January).

* Note that this data does not represent budgets or expenditure but revenues that include government and private voluntary contributions made to the various UN organizations. In some of them, voluntary funds make up a large chunk of the money available (e.g. ~80% in WHO). I’ve added the figures for 2014 and 2015 for the chart.

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