Funding Trends


Level of contributions

The level of voluntary contributions to UN Human Rights has increased substantially since 2010 but then decreased for the first time in nine years in 2019, when a total of US$179 million was raised, falling below the exceptional 2018 level.

In 2018, UN Human Rights received US$187.1 million, representing the highest amount ever received.  In 2017, the third highest amount of US$142.8 million was received in voluntary contributions, followed by US$129.6 million in 2016, US$125.8 million in 2015, US$123.7 million in 2014 and US$121.2 million in 2013. Between 2010 and 2012, the amount of voluntary contributions gradually increased from US$109.4 million in 2010 to US$111.1 million in 2012.

Looking exclusively at extrabudgetary income and expenditure, additional income, including interest and miscellaneous income, brought the total available income in 2019 to US$181.3 million. With expenditures amounting to US$183 million, UN Human Rights recorded more expenditure than income for the first time since 2015, ending 2019 with a shortfall of US$1.7 million. The deficit was covered using the reserves accumulated between 2016 and 2018 when income exceeded expenditure for three consecutive years.

Number and typology of donors

In 2019, the number of Member States that contributed to UN Human Rights increased by three, up to 66. The overall number of donors decreased by five, amounting to a total of 84 donors compared to 89 donors in 2018. During 2010-2019, the number of contributing Member States fluctuated between its lowest (62) in 2015 and its highest (71) in 2011, marked by the increase in contributions driven by the Arab Spring. The total number of donors that contributed to UN Human Rights was lowest in 2010 and 2015 (71) and highest (89) in 2018.

Amongst the 66 Member States who contributed in 2019, nine renewed their support after at least one year of financial inactivity. Another seven Member States left the list of donors, despite the High Commissioner’s repeated appeals to broaden the donor base. Over the last four years, only 48 Member States provided a contribution every year and 34 others contributed at least once in the same four-year period.

Of the 66 Member States that contributed in 2019, 25 were members of the Western European and Others Group (out of 29 Member States comprising the group); 17 were from the Asia-Pacific Group (out of 54 Member States comprising the group); 15 were from the Eastern European Group (out of 23 Member States comprising the group); six were from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (out of 33 Member States comprising the group); and three were from the African Group (out of 54 Member States comprising the group).

During 2010-2019, the number of donors per regional group fluctuated between 24 and 28 for the Western European and Others Group, between 14 and 20 for the Asia-Pacific Group, between seven and 15 for the Eastern European Group, between six and 10 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group and between two and five for the African Group.

The number of non-State donors, composed of multilateral organizations, the private sector and the UN system, has gradually increased from seven in 2010 to a total of 26 in 2018, down to 18 in 2019.

Regular budget versus voluntary contributions

Over the last nine years, approximately 40 per cent of the funding for UN Human Rights came from the United Nations regular budget (37.1 per cent in 2019, 40.2 per cent in 2018, 44 per cent in 2017, 45 per cent in 2016, 46 per cent in 2015 and 2014, 44 per cent in 2013 and 42.5 per cent in 2012). On the other hand, approximately 60 per cent came from voluntary contributions (62.9 per cent in 2019, 59.8 per cent in 2018, 56 per cent in 2017, 55 per cent in 2016, 54 per cent in 2015 and 2014, 56 per cent in 2013 and 57.5 per cent in 2012). Over the past few years, the increase in the share of the United Nations regular budget for UN Human Rights activities came from additional resources that were allocated to cover the Treaty Body Strengthening Process and additional mandates, including commissions of inquiry established by the Human Rights Council.

Earmarked versus unearmarked contributions

In 2019, UN Human Rights received US$57.1 million in unearmarked funds from 53 donors. In absolute terms, UN Human Rights raised the eighth highest amount of unearmarked funds. The unearmarked funds, however, represented 32 per cent of the overall voluntary contributions received in 2019, a 2 per cent increase from 30 per cent in 2018, representing a dramatic decrease from 43 per cent in 2017 and the second lowest percentage since 2006. During 2010-2019, the percentage of unearmarked funding has fluctuated between 30 per cent (at its lowest in 2018) and 54 per cent (at its highest in 2010 and 2013).

Some of the increase in earmarking can be attributed to the receipt of more locally sourced funding for fieldwork and contributions from non-traditional budget lines that can only be accessed as earmarked funds (such as humanitarian and development budget lines). Other contributions that were previously unearmarked are now provided as more circumscribed funding.

Predictability and sustainability

UN Human Rights opened 2019 with only US$60 million of predictable income in pledged contributions that were annual instalments of multi-year funding agreements. In 2019, UN Human Rights had such agreements with 16 donors, including 11 Member States (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), the European Commission and four other donors (the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft and the Open Society Foundations).

In-kind contributions

A number of Member States, namely Colombia, Qatar and Senegal, which host UN Human Rights offices, provide in-kind support by covering costs of items, such as the rent of premises, utilities and vehicles. The corresponding contributions are credited to their assessed contributions to the United Nations regular budget.

Junior Professional Officers

Some Member States provided UN Human Rights with additional, indirect financial support by contributing to the United Nations Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme, which is administered by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in New York. As of 31 December, UN Human Rights had 32 JPOs (23 women, 9 men) who were supported by the Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (see table below). Switzerland and the Netherlands also funded JPOs who were nationals of developing countries. Non-nationals amounted to six out of 32 in 2019.

United Nations Volunteers (UNV), administered by UNDP

In 2019, a total of 104 UNVs served with UN Human Rights, of whom 31 per cent were national UNVs and 67 per cent were women. As of 31 December, UN Human Rights had 19 UNVs who were fully funded by the Governments of Finland, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Luxemburg, Switzerland, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) (see table below). Germany and Luxembourg funded UNVs who were nationals of developing countries. Of the 19 UNVs, 15 were young persons between 18 and 29 years of age.