United NationsHow Assessed Contributions for Peacekeeping Operations Are Calculated Gao ID: NSIAD-94-206 August 1, 1994
To finance its peacekeeping operations, the United Nations relies on an assessment formula that is based on the regular U.N. budget assessment scale in which the nations that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and industrialized nations pay more than poorer nations. The system has led to inequities. In this report, GAO looks at alternatives to the current system and constructs a simplified perspective of countries' ability to pay for peacekeeping operations based on a 1992 "snapshot" of each country's percentage of global gross national product and a regrouping of peacekeeping assessment categories using World Bank per capita income data.
GAO found that: (1) the special assessment scale used to calculate member countries' contributions for UN peacekeeping operations is based on the countries' assessment group classification and on a regular budget assessment scale; (2) permanent security council members pay more than other industrialized countries and less developed countries to recognize their influence and veto power over peacekeeping missions; (3) UN regular budget assessments are based on national income and adjusted for external debt, per capita income, and other factors; (4) the United States often provides direct and indirect support for UN operations in addition to its peacekeeping budget assessments; (5) although the United States has provided substantial support for operations in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia, it has not been reimbursed for its support; (6) some U.S. officials believe that uncompensated support for UN operations should be considered when calculating the assessments; (7) to address equity issues and simplify calculation methods, UN could substitute national income with sustainable income in its regular budget calculation, use price adjusted currency exchange rates to calculate regular budget assessments, modify or eliminate the regular budget ceiling, reduce the statistical base period from 10 years to 3 years, establish specific criteria for countries placement in assessment groups, and expand the number of countries on the permanent security council; and (8) State Department officials believe that more objective economic criteria are needed to assess member countries' ability to contribute toward UN expenses.