United Nations funding is characterized by its complexity, which reflects both the diversity of the organization’s missions and the complicated network of structures. This funding is provided by three types of instruments:
The regular budget is adopted for a two-year period (from January 1 of year n to December 31 of year n+1) and covers expenditure made by the Secretariat as well as the basic administrative costs of certain funds and programs within the organization (UNEP, UN Women, etc.). The budget for 2012-2013 amounts to $5.152 billion and is essentially an operating budget. It is grouped under 14 headings and 37 chapters, and broken down by programs and sub-programs. The budget is financed through contributions from the member states, based on a scale that is negotiated every three years.
While peacekeeping operations were funded in an ad hoc manner until the end of the 1980s, ranging from simple voluntary contributions (UNFICYP in Cyprus) to funding based on a regular budget (for missions under Chapter VI) each mission is now systematically funded through the establishment of a special account, financed through compulsory contributions. The amount of the contributions made by the member states is based on a specific scale, derived from the regular budget but with an increased contribution by the permanent members of the Security Council. This budget is adopted on an annual basis and covers the period from July 1 of year n to June 30 of year n+1. The 2012/ 2013 budget amounts to $7.324 billion.
The UN’s extrabudgetary resources are understood, in general, to be all funding other than that derived from compulsory contributions or revenue-producing activities. These resources consist of voluntary contributions from member states and finance support activities, substantive activities (for example in addition to the activities financed by the regular budget) as well as operational activities (technical cooperation). In accordance with the financial regulations, these funds take the form of “trust funds, reserve and special accounts” (Article 4.13). In the 2012/2013 draft budget, these funds accounted for more than double the regular budget ($12.441 billion compared to $5.291 billion).