OHCHR’s Funding and Budget


The global funding needs of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are covered by the United Nations regular budget at a rate of approximately 40 per cent. The remainder is covered by voluntary contributions from Member States and other donors.

The UN regular budget, approved by the General Assembly every two years, is funded by “assessed contributions” from each Member State that are determined according to a formula that takes into account the size and strength of their respective national economies. The UN regular budget should finance all activities mandated by the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs, including the Human Rights Council (HRC). Human rights is recognized as one of the three pillars of the UN system, the other two being development and peace and security. The Human Rights up Front programme clearly underscores the centrality of human rights to the work of the entire UN Secretariat. And yet, the regular budget only allocates a tiny percentage of the resources to human rights that are extended to the other two pillars. In overall terms, the human rights pillar receives just 3.5 per cent of the total UN regular budget.

OHCHR funding overview 2002-2016 

For the 2016-2017 biennium US$190.5 million was initially approved for OHCHR, compared with US$207 million for the 2014-2015 biennium, and with US$177.3 million for the 2012-2013 biennium. This amount is not enough to implement human rights mandates established by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. Mandated work should ideally be financed entirely by the regular budget, however as this is not the case, the Office uses a substantial portion of extrabudgetary funds to supplement these activities.

In 2016, a total of US$129.6 million was raised in voluntary contributions, representing the highest amount ever received by the Office and an increase of 3 per cent compared to the previous year (US$125.8 million). At the same time, the proportion of unearmarked funding stabilized at 38 per cent of the total income received in 2016, after a sharp decrease to 37 per cent in 2015 (down from 47 per cent in 2014 and 54 per cent in 2013). This is partially due to the Office’s ongoing efforts to attract more local funding for field activities and tap into non-traditional budget lines from which donors can only provide earmarked funds. In addition, some contributions that were traditionally unearmarked were earmarked in 2015 and 2016.

Approximately 58 per cent of all voluntary funding was used in 2016 to support work in the field, which receives minimal support from the regular budget. The remainder of the voluntary funding was distributed between other areas of the Office’s work and often supplemented the limited resources available from the regular budget. This enabled the Office to achieve a far greater impact than would otherwise have been possible.

OHCHR Annual Report

The OHCHR Annual Report presents results achieved under the Office’s six thematic priorities as set out in the OMP 2014-2017. It also provides information about OHCHR management, funding and expenditure. OHCHR Report 2016 was launched 30 May 2017.

OHCHR Annual Appeal 2017

The Appeal sets forth a needs-based budget of US$252.9 million in extrabudgetary requirements for 2017. This amount is based on what the Office estimates is necessary to respond to the requests for assistance we receive.

Latest voluntary contributions to OHCHR in 2018
(as at 12 February, in chronological order from most recent to oldest)

Donor Currency Amount in US$
Flag Sweden-
Flag European Commission 
Flag Canada
Flag Belgium-
Flag UNDP (UN managed pooled and trust funds funding)
Flag New Zealand 
Flag Switzerland-
Flag Italy-
Flag United Kingdom
Flag Qatar