How is the UN funded? A simple explanation of a complex system
The US provides a significant portion of all UN funding, around 22% of the general budget and 28% of its peacekeeping budget. For decades, these contributions have been a source of both national and international conflict as actors argue about how this spending should be reflected in terms of influence or how the spending should be better distributed among its members. The Trump administration, to a greater extent than previous administrations, has worked to leverage this funding to bring countries and UN organizations closer to US priorities. Most recently, it announced its discontinuation of funding for the Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), for which the US pays 1/3rd of its annual budget, to demand reforms and increased funding from other countries. In what could be seen to reflect the success of this move, several countries have announced that they will increase funding for the agency to help cover American withdrawal. Over half of the UN budget goes towards humanitarian and development assistance, while peacekeeping operations account for nearly 20%. The remaining funds are allocated to treaty-related, knowledge-creation, technical cooperation and other similar activities. While funding priorities and amounts will not likely shift significantly in the near future, US contributions as a share of the total could be reduced, forcing other countries to contribute more.