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                                                                                       Updated September  11, 2019

United Nations Issues: U.S. Funding to the U.N. System

The United States is the single largest financial contributor
to the United Nations (U.N.) system. Congress has long
debated the appropriate level of U.S. contributions to U.N.
system activities and whether U.S. funds are used
efficiently and effectively. Since 2017, the Trump
Administration has proposed significant overall decreases
in U.S. funding; however, Congress has generally funded
U.N. entities at higher levels than the Administration has
requested. Compared to FY2019 funding levels, the
President's FY2020 budget proposed reducing U.N.
peacekeeping funding by 27%, decreasing U.N. regular
budget and specialized agency funding by 25%, and
eliminating funding to some U.N. funds and programs.

U.N.   System Funding
The U.N. system is made up of interconnected entities
including specialized agencies, funds and programs,
peacekeeping operations, and the U.N. organization itself.
The U.N. Charter, ratified by the United States in 1945,
requires each member state to contribute to the expenses of
the organization. The system is financed by assessed and
voluntary contributions from U.N. members. Assessed
contributions are required dues, the payment of which is a
legal obligation accepted by a country when it becomes a
member.  Such funding provides U.N. entities with a regular
source of income to pay for staff and implement core
programs. The U.N. regular budget, specialized agencies,
and peacekeeping operations and are financed mainly by
assessed contributions. Voluntary contributions fund special
funds, programs, and offices. The budgets for these entities
may  fluctuate annually depending on contribution levels.
U.N.  regular budget  and  U.N. specialized  agencies
The U.N. regular budget funds the core administrative costs
of the organization, including the General Assembly,
Security Council, Secretariat, International Court of Justice,
special political missions, and human rights entities. The
regular budget is adopted by the Assembly to cover a two-
year period; however, in 2017 the Assembly voted to
change the budget cycle to a one-year period beginning in
2020. Since the late 1980s, most Assembly decisions
related to the budget have been adopted by consensus.
When  budget votes occur (which is rare) decisions are
made by a two-thirds majority of members present and
voting, with each country having one vote. The approved
regular budget for 2018-2019 is $5.8 billion, or $2.9 billion
a year. The General Assembly negotiates a scale of
assessments for the regular budget every three years based
on a country's capacity to pay; assessments for the 2019-
2021 time period were adopted in December 2018. The
U.S. assessment is currently 22%, the highest of any U.N.
member  state. The U.S. rate is set by a ceiling that was
agreed to in the General Assembly in 2000.
U.N. specialized agencies are autonomous in executive,
legislative, and budgetary powers. Some agencies follow

the scale of assessment for the U.N. regular budget, while
others use their own formulas to determine assessments.
U.N.  peacekeeping   funding
There are currently 14 U.N. peacekeeping missions
worldwide with over 100,000 military, police, and civilian
personnel. U.N. Security Council resolutions establishing
new operations specify how each mission will be funded. In
most cases, the Council authorizes the General Assembly to
create a separate special account for each operation funded
by assessed contributions. The approved budget for the
2019/2020 peacekeeping fiscal year is $6.51 billion. The
Assembly  adopts the peacekeeping scale of assessments
every three years based on modifications of the regular
budget scale, with the five permanent Council members
assessed at a higher level than for the regular budget. The
current U.S. peacekeeping assessment is 27.89%.

U.N.  financial situation
In a March 2019 report to the General Assembly, U.N.
Secretary-General Guterres expressed concern regarding
the deteriorating financial health of the United Nations,
which has led to some budget shortfalls. He stated that
these challenges were not only the product of U.N. member
state payment patterns and arrears, but also structural
weaknesses in [U.N.] budget methodology. To help
address these issues, he proposed several reforms that have
been implemented or are under consideration by U.N.
member  states, including supporting replenishment of the
Special Account (which was established in 1965 to help the
organization with any financial challenges); pooling U.N.
peacekeeping cash balances; and changing peacekeeping
billing processes.

U.S.   Funding
Congress has generally authorized funding to the U.N.
system as part of Foreign Relations Authorization Acts;
appropriations are provided to the Department of State and
U.S. Agency for International Development to meet
obligations. When authorization bills are not enacted,
Congress has waived the authorization requirements and
appropriated funds through accounts in annual Department
of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
(SFOPS)  appropriations bills.
The Administration's FY2020 budget proposed significant
decreases in funding to accounts supporting the United
Nations (see Table 1). The Contributions to International
Organizations (CIO) account, which funds assessed
contributions to the U.N. regular budget, specialized
agencies (such as the World Health Organization [WHO]
and Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]), and other
international organizations, would be reduced by 25%, from
$1.36 billion in FY2019 to $1.01 billion in FY2020. Of the
FY2020  request, $785.38 million is designated for U.N.
entities. (FY2019 funding for U.N. entities is still being


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