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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. funding to U.N.
systemactivities andwhetherU.S. contributions are used
efficiently and effectively.
U.S. policymakers' perspectives on U.N. fundinghave
v aried over time. Most recently, the Trump Administration
consistently proposed significant overalldecreases in U.N.
funding; however, Congress generally funded most U.N.
entities at higher levels than the Administration requested.
At the s ame time, the Trump Administration also withheld
or halted funding to severalU.N. bodies. The Biden
Administration has supported reengaging with theUnited
Nations; the President's FY2022 budget request proposes
fully funding U.N. entities and paying selected U.S. arrears.
U.N. System     Funding
The U.N. systemis 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 eachmember state tocontribute to theexpensesof
the organization. The systemis financedby assessed and
voluntary contributions fromU.N. members. Assessed
contributions are required dues, the payment of which is a
legalobligation acceptedby a country whenit becomes a
member. Such funding provides U.N. entities with a regular
source ofincome to pay for staff and implement core
programs. For example, the U.N. regular budget,
specialized agencies, and peacekeeping operations are all
financed mainly by as sessed contributions. Voluntary
contributions primarily finance U.N. funds and programs.
The budgets for these entities may fluctuate annually
depending on donor contribution levels. For more details on
the U.N. system, see CRS In Focus IF11780, United
Nations Issues: Overview ofthe UnitedNations System, by
Luis a Blanchfield.
U.N. regular budget. The U.N. regular budget funds the
core administrative costs of the organization, including the
U.N. General Assembly, Security Council, Secretariat,
International Court of Jus tice, special political mis s ions,
and human rights entities. The regular budget is adopted by
the As sembly and used to cover a two-year period;
however, in 2017 the As sembly voted to change thebudget
cycle to a one-year periodbeginning in 2020. Since the late
1980s, mo s t As sembly decisions related to the budget have
been adoptedby consensus. Whenbudget 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 approvedregular budget for2021 is $3.23
billion. The General Assembly determines a scale of
assessments for the regular budget every three years based
on a country's capacity to pay. Governments are currently
negotiating assessment rates for the 2022-2024 time period,

which will be adopted by the Assembly in December 2021.
The U.S. as sessment is currently 22%, the highest of any
U.N. member, followed by China (12%) and Japan (8.5%).
U.N. SpecializedAgencies. The 15 U.N. specialized
agencies, which include the World Health Organization
(WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization, and World
Bank Group, among others, 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 12 U.N.
peacekeeping missions worldwide with over 80,000
military, police, and civilian personnel. U.N. Security
Councilres olutions establishing new operations specify
how each mis sion willbe funded. In most cases, the
Council authorizes the General Assembly to create a
discrete account for each operation funded by as sessed
contributions; recently, the General Assembly temporarily
allowed peacekeeping funding to be pooled for increased
financial flexibility due to concerns about budget shortfalls.
The approved budget for the 2021-2022 peacekeeping fiscal
year is $6.37 billion. The peacekeeping scale of
assessments is based on modifications of the regularbudget
scale, with the five permanent Council members assessed at
a higher levelthan for the regular budget. The current U.S.
peacekeeping assessment is 27.89%; however, Congress
has capped the U.S. contribution at 25%. Other top
contributors include China (15.2%) and Japan (8.5%).
U.S. Funding
Congress has generally authorized funding to theU.N.
s y s temas part of Foreign Relations Authorization Acts.
When authorization bills are not enacted, Congress has
waived such requirements and appropriated funds through
the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) accounts in annual Departmentof
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS)
appropriations bills (Table 1). President Biden's FY2022
budget request includes the following:
 $1.66 billion for the Contributions to International
Organizations (CIO) account, which funds assessed
contributions to the U.N. regular budget, U.N.
specialized agencies, and other international
organizations (a $157 million increase over enacted
FY2021 funding of $1.51 billion). The request fully
funds U.N. bodies and includes $82.4 million to pay
U.S. arrears that accumulated due to U.S. withholdings
from U.N. human rights bodies (including the Human
Rights Council) fromFY2018 to FY2020. It also
requests $75 million to pay one year of assessments to
the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) and includes waiver language
to provide authority to rejoin the organization.

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