NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 17, 2007

Most people probably wouldn't mind working for an outfit whose budget is slated to expand by 25 percent next year.  But then again, most people don't work for the United Nations (U.N.), says the Wall Street Journal.


  • Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposed "initial" budget for 2008-09 is $4.2 billion, a mere 15 percent increase over the Secretariat's current budget.
  • However, the number rises to$4.8 billion, when the "add ons" the Secretary General has already identified are included.
  • But even that's not the final figure; the U.N. budget is released piece by piece, and the United States estimates that the full budget will end up being in excess of $5.2 billion,
  • That equals a 25 percent increase over the last two-year budget cycle of 2006-07.

Yes, the United Nations has a lot on its plate and the world is full of challenges. But Ban's proposed increases aren't going for humanitarian assistance in Darfur or development aid to Africa. Roughly 75 percent is for salaries and other staff costs -- in other words, toward boosting the size of the U.N. bureaucracy.  Peacekeeping goes on a separate budget, which is anticipated to grow 40 percent, to $7 billion from $5 billion.

The United States is the largest donor to the United Nations, paying roughly one-quarter of its budget.  With the support of Japan, the second-largest donor, the United States is making the entirely reasonable demand that the United Nations set budget priorities.  If it wants more money for X, it should be required to identify spending cuts for Y or Z.

Source Editorial, "U.N. Budget Boom," Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2007.

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