Friday Follow-Up: US Contributions To The UN

A big, hot meeting on the UN and its discontents, with 19 participants.  including new members Brenda and Bill.

As follow-up, three items.  First, here’s a good short description of the first point I made in my intro: How Obama is trying to use global governing institutions to better leverage other rising powers’ influence to help solve global problems.

Second, how much does the UN cost the United States?  In FY 2009, our contributions totalled $6.35 billion.  This includes the regular UN budget, peacekeeping, and other special assessments and programs.  (source)

Third, how big is the “foreign aid” budget more broadly?  Well, the entire “International Affairs” part of the federal budget is about $50 billion.  But, only a part of that is foreign aid.  Perusing the IA budget (known as the “150 account“), it breaks down into (round numbers, FY 2010):

  • $25B = State Department operations; i.e., running our embassies and stuff.
  • $35B = “Foreign Operations.”  But, most of that is not what most people would call foreign aid.  The $35B consists of roughly:
    • $20B in economic aid, of which most, as Ron said, goes to Israel and Egypt; and
    • $8B in foreign military aid.
    • $7B of other stuff, like foreign agricultural assistance and…tah dah…contributions to international organizations like the UN, World Bank, African Development Bank, maritime commission, etc.

Two other points:

  1. A fair-sized chunk of the $50B in international affairs spending is to be spent in Afghanistan and Iraq; i.,e., the IA budget is larger than it typically is.
  2. The $50 billion for is of course a fraction (<2%) of the U.S. government’s $3+ trillion annual budget.  Social Security and defense/security spending alone each exceed $600 billion per year.

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