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Regular budget versus voluntary contributions

In 2023, the approved regular budget appropriation for UN Human Rights, as a department of the United Nations Secretariat, was US$178.2 million. While this represents an increase from the appropriation of US$133.9 million received in 2022, it only accounts for approximately 5 per cent of the total UN regular budget.

During this year, UN Human Rights also received the highest level of contributions to date, totalling US$281.5 million. Nevertheless, this fell far short of the US$452.4 million in extrabudgetary requirements that were outlined in the 2023 Annual Appeal. These extrabudgetary requirements are the funds that UN Human Rights requires, in addition to its regular budget allocation, to positively respond to all the requests for assistance it receives in a given year.

In 2023, approximately 38.8 per cent of the funding for UN Human Rights came from the United Nations regular budget. Consequently, approximately 61.2 per cent came from voluntary contributions. Further details are presented in the graphs below: 

Number and typology of donors

In 2023, UN Human Rights received funding from a total of 96 donors compared to 87 in 2022. This includes 71 Member States and 25 non-state donors, such as private sector and multilateral donors. Although the Office continues its efforts to broaden the donor base, the majority of voluntary contributions are still from Member States.

During 2015-2023, the number of contributing Member States fluctuated between its lowest (62) in 2015 and its highest (71) in 2023. The total number of donors that contributed to UN Human Rights was lowest in 2015 (71) and highest (96) in 2023.

During 2012-2023, the number of non-State donors gradually increased from six in 2012 to a total of 26 in 2018, the second highest level to date, down to 18 in 2019 and 17 in 2020, before reaching 30 in 2021.

Among the 71 Member States that contributed in 2023, one contributed for the first time, and nine renewed their support after at least one year of financial inactivity. Another two Member States left the list of funding partners, despite the High Commissioner’s repeated appeals to broaden the UN Human Rights donor base. Over the last four years, only 49 Member States provided a contribution every year and 30 others contributed at least once in the same four-year period.

Of the 71 Member States that contributed in 2023, 27 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); eight were from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (out of 33 Member States comprising the group); and four were from the African Group (out of 54 Member States comprising the group).

From 2014 to 2023, the number of donors per regional group fluctuated between 24 and 27 for the Western European and Others Group, between 14 and 19 for the Asia-Pacific Group, between nine and 15 for the Eastern European Group, between five and 10 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group and between one and five for the African Group.

Earmarked versus unearmarked contributions

In 2023, UN Human Rights received US$85 million in unearmarked funds from 51 donors. In absolute terms, this was the highest amount of unearmarked funds that UN Human Rights, after 2021 when it received US$84.4 million. Yet, the level of earmarking remains high at 70 per cent. Unearmarked contributions represent 30 per cent of the overall voluntary contributions received in 2023, representing a seven point decrease from 37 per cent in 2021. The continuous increase in the level of earmarking makes it difficult for the Office to efficiently implement the OMP. It also means reduced flexibility, higher transactional costs, and constraints on OHCHR’s ability to effectively respond to emerging needs.

Some of the increase in earmarking can be attributed to 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.

In-kind contributions

A number of Member States, namely Colombia, Qatar, and Senegal, host UN Human Rights offices and provide in-kind support by covering some costs, such as the rent of premises, utilities, and vehicles. These 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 (DESA), in New York. In 2023, 44 JPOs (34 women, 10 men) were working at UN Human Rights and were supported by 17 governments, namely: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America. Belgium and the Netherlands also funded JPOs who were nationals of developing countries. Three of the 44 JPOs were non-nationals. In terms of location, 28 JPOs were deployed to headquarters and 16 were deployed to the field (two in the Africa region and 14 in the Asia-Pacific region).

United Nations Volunteers

UN Human Rights benefited from indirect financial support through the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme, which is administered by UNDP. In 2023, a total of 269 UNVs served with UN Human Rights. A total of 240 UNVs were funded by OHCHR and three were funded by the UNV Special Volunteer Fund. A total of 26 UNVs were fully funded by eight governments, of which four were non-nationals.