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A Simple Guide to Exactly How the United Nations Is Funded



Photo of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressing the Climate Summit
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In 2017, the the United Nations’ revenue totaled US $53.2 billion. It’s the most recent year for which there is data, and is roughly the same amount as Lebanon’s GDP that year. With that kind of money floating around, it pays to understand at least the basics of how the UN is financed.
The United Nations has 193 member states, all of which pay yearly into the organization. Those payments are called contributions, and are divided into two types: assessed and voluntary. Assessed contributions are mandatory.
Voluntary contributions are made at the discretion of each state. Most voluntary contributions are earmarked by the country for use toward a particular program or location.
Seventy-four percent of UN funding comes from governments. But there are a handful of non-state organizations that also contribute. They include the European Commission, which committed $2.7 billion in 2017, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which volunteered $300 million.

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