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OHCHR’s Funding and budget

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Latest ten voluntary contributions to OHCHR in 2023

(as at 30 November, in chronological order from oldest to newest)

Donor Amount in currency Amount in US$
Nicaragua - 2'500
Sweden SEK 35,000,000 3'145'785
Ford Foundation - 500'000
Finland EUR 120,000 127'253
Morocco - 150'000
United States of America - 8'000'000
Switzerland - 50'034
Austria EUR 125,800 133'404
Poland CHF 101,362.31 112'375
Italy EUR 220,000 233'298
Netherlands - 1'053'900
Ford Foundation - 50'000
Netherlands - 59'615
Switzerland - 200'000
Netherlands - 2'715'415
Andorra EUR 10,000 10'672
Liechtenstein CHF 400,000 442'478
Spain EUR 750,000 800'427
Netherlands - 9'308
Andorra EUR 10,000 10'672
Switzerland CHF 500,000 553'097
Sweden SEK 2,155,000 198'124

View complete list of voluntary contributions to OHCHR in 2023 (PDF)


Almost two thirds of UN Human Rights’ income come from voluntary contributions from Member States and other donors. The remainder is covered by the UN regular budget.

The UN regular budget, approved by the General Assembly, is funded by “assessed contributions” from each Member State. These are determined by a formula that takes into account the size and strength of their respective national economies.

The 2023 regular budget is the fourth annual budget prepared in accordance with the UN management reform agenda. Indeed, during its seventy-second session, the General Assembly approved the proposed change from a biennial to an annual budget cycle on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020. The General Assembly reviewed the implementation of the annual budget at its seventy-seventh session in September 2022.

In 2022 the approved regular budget (RB) appropriation for UN Human Rights, as a department of the United Nations Secretariat, was US$133.9 million. The total regular budget allotment was US$151.8 million, including the RB appropriation, US$15.4 million for certain resolutions approved by the Human Rights Council, and US$2.5 million for the regular programme for technical cooperation.

Human rights get a tiny part of UN regular budget: only 4.3%

The UN regular budget should finance all activities that are mandated by the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs, including the Human Rights Council (HRC). The regular budget allocation, however, does not keep pace with the growth in the number and scope of General Assembly human rights mandates. Human rights are Charter responsibilities, recognized as one of the three pillars of the UN system, the other two being development, and peace and security. While the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights clearly underscores the centrality of human rights to the work of the entire UN Secretariat, the regular budget allocated to human rights is highly limited. In fact, while the approved budget appropriation for 2022 of US$133.9 million represents an increase from the appropriation of US$129.3 million received in 2021, it only accounts for approximately 4.3 per cent of the total UN regular budget.

The regular budget submission for the Office for 2023 is US$ 144.3 million, which continues to represent less than five per cent of the total UN regular budget.

UN Human Rights relies heavily on voluntary contributions

As in previous years, the 2023 regular budget reflects “zero growth”, as well as a number of across-the-board reductions from previous years decided by the General Assembly. In reality, this means resources allocated to human rights are in decline: official human rights mandates continue to grow in number and scope, and Member States have formally requested consideration of an increase in the budget share for human rights. As a result, UN Human Rights continues to rely heavily on voluntary contributions to finance at least 20 per cent of the mandated activities that should be financed by the regular budget, primarily treaty body and special procedures work.

Voluntary contributions, or extra-budgetary resources, represented in 2022 61.3 per cent of our overall budget and were insufficient to respond to all requests for assistance or needs identified by UN Human Rights. Meeting all the demand will require greater financial support from Member States and other donors, including the private sector.


Only 33% of extrabudgetary contributions are unearmarked

In 2022, the Office received US$240.8 million in extra-bud¬getary contributions. This represents an increase of 5.8 per cent, compared to the 2021 total of US$227.7 million. This is the highest annual amount that UN Human Rights has received to date. Nevertheless, the total amount of extrabudgetary contributions falls far short of the US$400.6 million in extrabudgetary requirements that were outlined in the 2022. Of these contributions, 33 per cent are unearmarked (corresponding to an amount of US$79.9 million), a decrease of 4 per cent compared to 2021. While all contributions are gratefully appreciated, the level of earmarking remains high and makes it difficult for the Office to efficiently implement the OMP. It also means reduced flexibility, higher transactional costs and constraints on the Office’s ability to effectively respond to emerging needs.

In 2022, 54.7 per cent of total expenditures (US$378.1 million), including regular budget and voluntary contributions, were devoted to fieldwork and headquarters support for the field, in particular for capacity-strengthening projects and human rights monitoring, which were predominantly financed through voluntary contributions. The graph below summarizes the Office’s expenditures by main activity:


Financial requirements in 2023

Total extra-budgetary resources need¬ed for 2023 amount to US$452 million. These are the funds the Office would re¬quire, in addition to the regular budget allocation, if it were to address all assis¬tance needs, both requests received or those identified by UN Human Rights. Ideally, contributions should be flexible and provided through multi-year agree¬ments to help increase the predictability and sustainability of our work. Early pay¬ment is also critical as it helps to mitigate cash flow constraints during the year.

Rather than limiting ourselves to operat¬ing budgets, this Appeal represents the full extent of our financial requirements and their justification. At the same time, this overall budget remains limited to what can realistically be implemented within a single year. For this reason, some increas¬es, notably in the field, remain modest. Expanding the reach of field presences requires a steady build-up of human re¬sources and predictable budgets over time that allow for sustained growth and effec¬tive operational critical mass.