How Much Does the United Nations Spend on Peacekeeping? Here's What We Know

The 73rd session of United Nations General Assembly officially opened on Tuesday, with top diplomats and government leaders from around the world converging on New York. The theme of the general debate will be "Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies."

Although the United Nations peacekeeping multi-billion dollar operational budget currently runs until next summer, President Donald Trump has pushed to reduce costs. Last year, through White House efforts, the budget was reduced by about $600 million. Running from June 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, the budget is currently set at $6.7 billion. The United States, which is the world's largest economy, is by far the biggest contributor, giving more than double of the next biggest donor, China.

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the U.S. will contribute 28.47 percent ($1.9 billion) of the body's budget. China trails far behind, contributing just 10.25 percent ($687.7 million). Japan follows China at just under 10 percent, then Germany, France and the United Kingdom all at around 6 percent. Russia, Italy, Canada and Spain round out the top ten contributors, respectively.

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This graph shows the percentages given as contributions by the top 10 nations to the UN Peacekeeping budget for 2018 to 2019 StatistaCharts

"Every Member State [of the UN] is legally obligated to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping," according to the U.N. Peacekeeping website. Each country's contribution is decided through "a special scale of assessments under a complex formula that Member States themselves have established." Permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., the UK, France, China and Russia) are required to contribute a larger amount, as they have greater responsibilities in monitoring and ensuring international peace and security.

While wealthier, developed nations contribute large amounts of money to the peacekeeping efforts, many developing nations send larger numbers of troops. According to a February report published by the BBC, Ethiopia and Bangladesh are the top two providers of soldiers (with about 8,500 and 7,200 respectively) sent around the world on peacekeeping missions. India, which has one of the world's largest economies but a vast disparity between economic groups, is the third largest contributor of troops. Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, Egypt, Senegal, Indonesia and Ghana are the other seven nations in the top 10, all sending thousands of soldiers for peacekeeping efforts.

Overall, the peacekeeping budget actually decreased even before Trump took office. Between 2015 and 2016 it was set at $8.3 billion. It then dropped to $7.87 billion from 2016 to 2017, a budget set under former President Barack Obama's terms. During the last fiscal year, it dropped further to $7.3 billion and now is under $7 billion for the current year.

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Tanzanian soldiers from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic patrol the town of Gamboula, threatened by the Siriri group on July 6. FLORENT VERGNES/AFP/Getty Images

A United Nations Association-U.K. report from July 2017 highlighted some concerns about the decreasing budget, warning that some of the cuts "could place civilians at risk," particularly in several African nations. The report also reiterated that the budget was reduced largely at the urging of the U.S.

"The issue the General Assembly has is that there are few places within Peacekeeping where cuts can safely be made. Cutting the smaller missions does not save very much money, and cutting the bigger missions is very dangerous," the report explained.

How Much Does the United Nations Spend on Peacekeeping? Here's What We Know | World