John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


President Trump’s “Skinny Budget” and Peacekeeping

by John Campbell
March 17, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump's overview of the budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 are displayed at the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) on its release by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Washington, U.S. March 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)


At present, there are sixteen UN peacekeeping missions around the world, nine of which are in Africa: Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Western Sahara (Sudan has two, Darfur and Abyei). Like all UN peacekeeping missions, these were mandated by the UN Security Council (UNSC). UN peacekeeping operations funding is the responsibility of all member states. The UN uses a complex formula to assess member state contributions that, among other things, takes into account relative wealth. Beyond that formula, the permanent five members on the UNSC (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) pay a supplement because of their special responsibilities and privileges.

The budget for UN peacekeeping in the 2016-2017 fiscal year was $7.87 billion, which the UN estimates is one-half of one percent of world military expenditures.

The assessed percentage of UN peacekeeping costs is the following for the highest ten states.

Based on the assessed percentage, the projected cost to the United States is $2.25 billion. However, many UN member states, including the United States, are chronically in arrears. Further, it is conventional wisdom that UN peace keeping missions are usually under-funded given the tasks mandated to them by the UNSC.

In the United States, the administration rolled out President Trump’s “skinny budget” on March 16. This foreshadows the much more detailed budget that will be presented to Congress in May. It is essentially a “political” document in that it reflects the administration’s “wish list.” The actual budget will be subject to intensive Congressional scrutiny. At the end of the day, it is Congress that controls the purse strings.

President Trump’s “skinny budget” calls for a cut in the budget of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development of nearly 30 percent. It also anticipates massive cuts in U.S. payments and contributions to the UN system. Such a budget cut would also eliminate most U.S. foreign assistance, with the exception of certain health programs, notably involving HIV/AIDS.

Even if Congress rolls backs some of these budget cuts, it must be anticipated that U.S. funding of UN peace keeping will be significantly reduced. How will the resulting short-fall be made up? Some peacekeeping missions might be eliminated, though experience shows this is difficult to do without an increase in bloodshed. Alternatively, other countries might increase their contributions – and thereby their influence within specific peacekeeping missions and the UN as a whole. China, increasingly involved in peacekeeping missions, might see an opportunity.


Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Pleb

    Why would anyone in their right minds give any aid to Africa? It is a bottomless pit.

  • Posted by Pleb

    Why does the US have a third of the Budget allocation? Is it based on the GDP of the country ? If so then that is unfair. Look at China in comparison. Something not right here. I think this is also the same for NATO.

  • Posted by Eugen

    It’s impressive! The budget for UN peacekeeping was $7.87 billion…

  • Posted by kylewalder

    I would love to join the cfr

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required