OHCHR’s Funding and Budget
Latest ten voluntary contributions to OHCHR in 2022
(as at 31 March, in chronological order from oldest to newest)
Amount in US$|
View complete list of voluntary contributions to OHCHR in 2022 (PDF)
Almost two thirds of UN Human Rights' income comes from voluntary contributions from Member States and other donors. The remainder is covered by the UN regular budget.
The UN regular budget, approved by the General Assembly, is funded by "assessed contributions" from each Member State. These are determined by a formula that takes into account the size and strength of their respective national economies.
The 2022 regular budget is the third annual budget prepared in accordance with the UN management reform agenda. Indeed, during its seventy-second session, the General Assembly approved the proposed change from a biennial to an annual budget cycle on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020. The General Assembly will review the implementation of the annual budget at its seventy-seventh session in September 2022, with a view to taking a final decision.
Human rights gets a tiny part of UN regular budget: just over 3%
The UN regular budget should finance all activities mandated by the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs, including the Human Rights Council. Human rights are Charter responsibilities, recognized as one of the three pillars of the UN system, the other two being development, and peace and security. While the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights clearly underscores the centrality of human rights to the work of the entire UN Secretariat, the regular budget allocated to human rights is highly limited. Of all regular budget resources directed to these three pillars in 2021, human rights received less than 7 per cent, while the other two pillars received more than 93 per cent. The regular budget appropriation for the Office for 2022 amounts to US$ 134 million, representing just over 3 per cent of the total UN regular budget.
UN Human Rights relies heavily on voluntary contributions
As in previous years, the 2022 regular budget reflects “zero growth”, as well as a number of across-the-board reductions from previous years decided by the General Assembly. In reality, this means resources allocated to human rights are in decline: official human rights mandates continue to grow in number and scope, and Member States have formally requested consideration of an increase in the budget share for human rights. As a result, UN Human Rights continues to rely heavily on voluntary contributions to finance as much as 20 per cent of the mandated activities that should be financed by the regular budget, primarily treaty body and special procedures work.
Voluntary contributions, or extra-budgetary resources, represented, in 2021 around 62 per cent of our overall budget and were insufficient to respond to all requests for assistance or needs identified by UN Human Rights. Meeting all the demand will require greater financial support from Member States and other donors, including the private sector.
Only 37% of extrabudgetary contributions are unearmarked
The Office received US$227.7 million in extrabudgetary contributions in 2021, compared to US$224.3 million in 2020, an increase of some 1.5 per cent. It is the highest annual amount that UN Human Rights has received to date. Of these, only 37 per cent were unearmarked, corresponding to an amount of US$84.4 million. This is the highest level of unearmarked voluntary contributions received to date in absolute terms. While this trend, and all contributions, are gratefully appreciated, the level of earmarking remains high and makes it more difficult for the Office to efficiently implement the OMP. It means reduced flexibility, higher transactional costs and constraints on the effective response to emerging needs.
In 2021, out of US$323.2m in total expenditures, including both regular budget and voluntary contributions, 54.2 per cent were devoted to fieldwork and HQ support for the field, particularly for capacity-strengthening projects and for human rights monitoring, which were predominantly financed through voluntary contributions. Approximately 10.8 per cent of total expenditures were spent on thematic research, human rights mainstreaming, the development of policy and the provision of guidance and tools; 6.5 per cent were spent supporting the human rights treaty bodies, including policymaking organs; and 10.7 per cent were spent in support of the Human Rights Council and its special procedures. The remainder was devoted to programme support (4.9 per cent), executive direction and management, resource mobilization and outreach activities (8.9 per cent) and the trust funds and miscellaneous activities (4.1 per cent).
Financial requirements in 2022
Total extra-budgetary resources needed for 2022 amount to US$400.5 million. These are the funds the Office would require, in addition to the regular budget allocation, if it were to address all assistance needs, both requests received or those identified by UN Human Rights. Ideally, contributions should be flexible and provided through multi-year agreements to help increase the predictability and sustainability of our work. Early payment is also critical as it helps to mitigate cash flow constraints during the year.
Rather than limiting ourselves to operating cost plans, this Appeal represents the full extent of our financial requirements and their justification. At the same time, this overall budget remains limited to what can realistically be implemented within a single year. For this reason, and due to the lengthy recruitment process to which the Office must adhere, some increases, notably in the field, remain modest. Expanding the reach of field presences requires a steady build-up of human resources and budgets over time.