The raising of the flags at United Nations headquarters in New York. Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

The United Nations (UN) had a record income of USD 74 billion in 2022 (the last year for which complete numbers are available). That is almost double what it was a decade earlier. Yet, instead of celebrations, the current UN financing year began with a letter by the UN Secretary-General warning member states of an “accelerating liquidity crisis” in the UN Secretariat. As of mid-June 2024, the two largest contributors—the United States and China—together with 51 other member states have still not paid their annual mandatory contributions that were due by February 8.

While it may seem paradoxical for the UN to simultaneously have a record budget and face a liquidity crisis, this speaks to the long-standing complexities of UN funding dynamics. A closer look at UN financing provides insights into how UN multilateralism works, or fails to work, as we argue in a recent study. Read more