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The UN's role in grant-financed development: Is there a funding crisis?

Briefing/policy papers

Much of the interest in the United Nations in recent years has focused upon the reform of its main governing institutions, such as the Security Council, and its performance in peace- keeping operations. This interest has highlighted a `financial crisis' in the UN as a whole. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to whether or not funding difficulties have jeopardised its role in the economic and social development of poorer countries where, according to the UNDP, around $5 billion annually is provided by all UN funds, programmes and specialist agencies combined.

This Briefing Paper describes the evolution of the UN's work in development, assesses its contribution to global assistance efforts, and explains how its main components have been financed in the past (and how financial support is changing). The particular focus is on the Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Population Fund (UNFPA), and the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Finally, the possible consequences of recent changes in the volume and nature of funding for grant-assisted development are assessed.