General scale of assessments
Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations states that the organisation’s expenses shall be borne by the member states as apportioned by the General Assembly. If a member is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions for two years, it loses its right to vote in the General Assembly. Exceptions may be made if the member’s failure to pay is due to circumstances beyond its control (Article 19).
The current contributions scale, valid for 2016 to 2018, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015. The four largest contributors to the United Nations – the US (22% of the UN budget), Japan (9.680%), China (7.921%) and Germany (6.389%) – together finance some 46% of the entire UN budget.
The scale of assessments for assessed contributions to the regular budget is based on the relative ability of each member state to contribute. A country’s gross national income serves as the yardstick for determining what it should pay, based on the figures from the previous six years. Countries with high foreign debt and/or low per‑capita income can have their rates of contribution significantly reduced, which results in a corresponding increase in the rates of contribution for industrialised countries. For political reasons, the rate of contribution for the US has been capped at 22% of the entire UN budget. The minimum rate of contribution for the poorest or smallest countries is 0.001%.
Financing peace missions
In addition to the regular United Nations budget, member states make assessed contributions to finance peace missions. There is a modified scale of assessments for these contributions which separates the member states into ten different country groups and grants additional deductions to developing countries with low per‑capita income. The cost of this is borne by the five permanent members of the Security Council as a surcharge on their basic rates of contribution.
This reflects the special political responsibility the permanent members of the Security Council bear for maintaining peace and security. Because the number and length of peace missions change, these contributions vary more from year to year than those for the regular UN budget.
The budgets for the individual peace missions are each passed separately for one year, running from July to the following June. For the period from July 2017 to June 2018, total expenditure on all 15 peace missions will be approx. 6.8 billion US dollars. Germany is contributing 6.389 percent of this amount. However, because the final budgets for UNAMID and MINUJUSTH are currently being negotiated, the total amount is expected to increase to 7.3 billion US dollars.
United Nations budget for the 2018‑2019 biennium
The regular United Nations budget for the 2018/2019 biennium, approved by the 72nd session of the General Assembly on 23 December 2017, amounts to 5.397 billion US dollars, inclusive of all supplements. The International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY, 98.1 million US dollars) and Rwanda (ICTR, 5.8 million US dollars, transacted in 2016) both have their own regular two‑year budgets, as does the associated International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT, 135.7 million US dollars). These budgets are funded in equal parts from the regular contributions scale and the peacekeeping scale.
The numerous United Nations programmes and funds (UNDP, UNFPA, UNEP, etc.) receive additional financing through voluntary contributions from the member states.