United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture - Financial situation of the Fund

The UN Torture Fund does not receive contributions from the UN Regular Budget or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Voluntary contributions are made mainly by Member States of the United Nations. Private foundations and individuals contribute as well currently, to a symbolic extent (less than 1%).

In line with UN Rules and Regulations Programme support costs, i.e. overheads, are kept at a minimum, and do not exceed 13% on a yearly basis. Such costs include staffing and equipment. 

In 2010, the UN Torture Fund received approximately US$9.4 million in contributions from 25 donors (including 23 Member States) a decrease of 13.8 per cent compared to 2009, when 31 donors supported its activities. 

In 2011 the UN Torture Fund faced an additional shortfall to continue to meet requests from grantees at the 2010 level, as contributions were limited to US$7.9 million, which compelled the Board to decide on strategic cuts to grantees. 

For 2012, additional cuts had to be applied to all projects. Namely, a decrease of 40 per cent applied to grants awarded to ongoing projects located in Western European and Others Group (WEOG) countries, while the level of support to projects located in other regions was reduced by 30 per cent. With a view to mitigating the effects of the cuts on small-grass roots organizations, in particular those located in remote regions where access to alternative funding is difficult, no strategic cut was applied to grants of US$20,000 or below.

For 2013, at its thirty-sixth session the Board was compelled to maintain the strategic cuts to grants introduced in 2012 in addition to those already introduced for the 2011 cycle, which had decreased by 40 per cent grants awarded to projects located in States of the group of Western European and
other States and by 30 per cent grants awarded to projects located in other regions.

For 2014, due to a further decrease in contributions received, the Board was compelled to introduce measures to absorb the funding shortage. Cuts were introduced in a proportional manner, using among others criteria such as the grantee’s dependency to the Fund and the longevity of support from the Fund to the grantee.

It is to be noted that, as a rule, the maximum support to all grantees was capped at US$80,000 instead of the usual US$200,000. In addition, funding for training and seminars for professionals assisting victims was capped at US$5,000, instead of the usual US$30,000. As it was already the case in 2011, support for direct assistance to new grantees was capped at a maximum of US$20,000 instead of the usual US$50,000.

The need for states to continue to contribute to this crucial humanitarian Fund was recalled by the marking the International day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The historical evolution of contributions to the UN Torture Fund since its creation is charted below.


Contributions 1982-2012


Due to the funding cycle, contributions received in a calendar year are used in the following year, as the Board meets every October to award grants for the following year. In the past 3 years the UN Torture Fund has been using its reserves to mitigate the effects of the shortfall in funding.

As this is not a sustainable approach, and the UN Torture Fund has no reserves left, the Board of Trustees of the Fund and the OHCHR have been intensifying their fundraising efforts during these past few months to attempt to increase the visibility of the Fund and embark on a new fundraising strategy, consolidating existing donors, outreaching to non-contributing Member States and targeting the private sector, including foundations and the corporate world