UN Funding: Analysis and Impacts

Iran will not be able to cast vote in the United Nations due to bankruptcy

The Successors of League of Nations, United Nations, is the only international body in the whole world where every member, non-member and non-recognised party has a say. From presenting reports about military power to environmental responsibility, taking care from health care to education, the UN has a role to play almost in every sphere of life worldwide. To maintain such a huge organisation, to carry peace missions worldwide and to collect data from the NGOs and governments worldwide, the UN's funding plays a crucial role everywhere. But the question arises, does the UN funding given by a country impact the decision-making process of this organisation?

Funding of United Nations by countries

Before moving to our major question of impacts on decision making we need to understand the contribution of different countries. Using the 2020 data of UN contribution, it can be assumed that the major contribution of funding in United Nations is given by western nations.

You can download the report here

United Nation budget contribution by countries

United States of America is the largest contributor to the UN with 22% of total funding followed by China with 12% and Japan with 8.5%.

Current UN funding for peacekeeping missions

While decisions about establishing, maintaining or expanding a peacekeeping operation are taken by the Security Council, the financing of UN Peacekeeping operations is the collective responsibility of all UN Member States.

Every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping. The approved budget for UN Peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021 is $6.58 billion.

The top 10 providers of assessed contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping operations for 2020-2021 are:

  1. United States (27.89%)

  2. China (15.21%)

  3. Japan (8.56%)

  4. Germany (6.09%)

  5. United Kingdom (5.79%)

  6. France (5.61%)

  7. Italy (3.30%)

  8. Russian Federation (3.04%)

  9. Canada (2.73%)

  10. Republic of Korea (2.26%)

You can access the full list of countries here

The UN has no military forces of its own, and the Member States provide, voluntarily, the military and police personnel required for each peacekeeping operation.

Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of US$1,428 per soldier per month as of 1 July 2019.

Analysis of UN Funding

Budget division of UN
Budget division of UN

The Devastating Impacts of Cuts to United Nations Funding

Peace & Stability

As Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said:

[United Nations] peacekeepers help promote stability and help reduce the risks that major U.S. military interventions may be required. Therefore the success of these operations is very much in our national interest.

While other countries pay over 70 percent of the costs of UN peacekeeping missions, the U.S. remains the largest financial contributor. U.S. decision to slash peacekeeping funding would have far-reaching consequences in the field, making it much more difficult for peacekeepers to effectively manage conflict and protect civilians from harm. Although every contribution counts when we talk about peacekeeping still U.S. contribution is significant due to 1/3rd supply of funds alone. Research has clearly shown that in places with a significant peacekeeping presence, civilian deaths fall markedly. In one study, the authors examined monthly civilian death tolls from civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa over fifteen years. Their findings were striking: in instances where no peacekeeping troops were deployed, the monthly average of civilian deaths was 106. In instances where at least 8,000 UN troops were present, by contrast, the average monthly death toll fell to less than two.

Drastic cuts in UN peacekeeping would prevent the deployment of the larger and more robust missions sometimes necessary to prevent civilian casualties and unnecessary loss of life.

Humanitarian Assistance

Famine in South Sudan

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, with the threat of famine looming across Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria. Twenty million people are in immediate need of life-saving assistance, including food, water, health care services, sanitation and hygiene, and will starve to death if the UN does not receive the funds necessary to reach them. The UN is also responding to a massive humanitarian crisis in Syria and the humanitarian impacts of the Mosul operation in Iraq.

In Iraq, failure to meet basic humanitarian needs will erode the Iraqi people’s faith in their government, further destabilizing the country and region. In just one day in December 2016, UN agencies including UNFPA, UNICEF, and the World Food Program delivered desperately-needed aid to 42,000 people in eastern Mosul. UNFPA and the Iraqi government created a survivors’ centre to meet the needs of women and girls fleeing abuse at the hands of ISIL.

Health & Diseases

WHO coronavirus

In the past, cuts to the World Health Organization (WHO) led to major reductions in their outbreak and emergence response units, elimination of critical staff, and severe scale-backs in disease surveillance. This played a central role in the slowed response to the Ebola crisis, which cost the U.S. nearly $2.4 billion.

The world has never been closer to eradicating polio. Cuts to WHO and UNICEF’s polio programs would curtail progress towards eradication, potentially allowing the disease to spread to polio-free countries and affect as many as 200,000 people across the world per year within five years.


It is very crucial for us to understand that UN as a whole needs lots and lots of funds to continue its operation around the globe. In past, we have heard various claims that the major supporter countries manipulate the decision making of the UN and that might be an unclaimed truth in some cases. But we cannot discard the organisation as a whole because a number of countries and a very large population is dependent on UN aid for surviving daily.