Peacekeeping Budgets Equal Less than Two Days of Military Spending


Michael Renner

The approved budget for United Nations peacekeeping operations from July 2013 to June 2014 runs to $7.83 billion—$390 million higher than in the previous year.1 (See Figure 1.) This is the third-highest budget since the record $8.26 billion spent in 2009–10.2 Despite some relatively minor fluctuations in the last seven years, peacekeeping budgets are much more stable now than in the 1990s, when a rapid rise in spending was followed by an abrupt decline.

Since peacekeeping was invented in the years following World War II, the United Nations has spent a cumulative $124 billion on these missions—an amount that pales in comparison to even a single year of world military expenditures, which stood at $1,753 billion in 2012.3 The world’s armies could not operate for even two days on the current annual peacekeeping budget.

Compared with the early days of peacekeeping—when missions were largely limited to monitoring and maintaining peace along well-defined ceasefire lines—today’s missions are highly complex. Some attempt peace enforcement (suppressing the use of violence by combatants), and some are charged with disarming and reintegrating former fighters. Others involve a broad array of civilian tasks, such as assistance in elections and other political processes, institution building, reform of judicial systems, and training for police forces, as well as other steps to foster and consolidate peace.