Nationalism vs. Internationalism

United Nations Budget

     In 1946 the UN Regular Budget was $21.5 million. In 1992 it was $1,181.2 million. This represents an increase by 55 times during 46 years, which would not in itself be a horrendous growth for an institution that started from scratch.
     The UN's regular budget has always been raised from members and expressed in US Dollars, the value of which has greatly declined since 1946. Thus, in real terms the UN regular budget has grown only 10 times since 1946.
     Since 1946 the UN's membership has increased from 51 to 184, (by 1994) bringing on to its agenda the conditions of virtually the whole of humankind, the numbers of which have more than doubled. Governments have commendably launched dozens of major global programmes in response to these increased commitments. Against this background the
UN's budgetary increase has, if anything, been extraordinarily modest. Eight years ago demands to reduce the budget forced a 13 per cent UN staff cut and a hiring freeze; today there are complaints about the Secretariat's difficulties in handling the peacekeeping and other emergencies now being heaped upon the organization.
     The table below sets out the total investment made by the international community through the UN system as a whole. Most of the programmes did not even exist in 1946, including today's (1994) extensive grant-assistance development activities. The table also shows the amount that member states are spending per capita of humankind in each field through the system.
     The estimated total world-wide expenditure through the UN system in 1992 was $10.5 billion. Some idea of what this means in reality may be gauged from the fact the expenditures of the citizens of the United Kingdom on alcoholic beverages for a year (1990) is three-and-half-times the actual UN-system expenditure.
     The UN system's expenditure was only 0.0005 per cent of the world's gross domestic product, and only about 0.0007 per cent of the GDP of 24 industrial countries. It represented an expenditure of $1.90 per human being alive in 1992. This would not seem to be exorbitant in a world whose governments spent about $150 per human being on military expenditures.

United Nations Expenditures (in millions of $US)


Programme UN & Agencies Emergencies Per Capita
Policy-making 177.9     0.03
Political Affairs  385.3  0.07
Peacekeeping operations  1,400  0.25
Development  774.5   0.14
General Statistics 145.9  0.03
Natural Resources  403.5   0.07
Energy   81.5   0.01
Agriculture,Forestry, Fisheries  817.2  0.15
Industry  275.5   0.05
Transport   241.2   0.04
Communications  298.9   0.05
Trade & Development   291.9   0.05
Population  268.8   0.05
Human Settlements   127.9   0.02
Health 402.9   0.07
Education  418.5   0.07
Employment  284.4   0.05
Humanitarian Assistance  2.699.8  0.49
Social Development 375.2  0.07
Culture   48.9  0.01
Science & Technology 294.6  0.05
Environment  269.3  0.05
Totals  6,383.8   4099.8   1.90

     Significantly, 39 per cent of this amount ($4.09 billion, 0.74 per capita) was for emergency work in peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. This underscores the failure to use the UN system to tackle the root causes of what usually become extremely costly problems

Source: Erskine Childers with Brian Urguhart, Renewing the United Nations System, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Uppsala, Sweden, 1994, p. 143,4