Personnel Costs in UN Peacekeeping Part III

CIC Data in Focus is a blog series discussing trends, peculiarities, and questions arising from UN data, mainly drawn from our datasets here at the Center on International Cooperation. In case you missed them, our last two posts examined how much the UN has budgeted for peacekeeping staff costs per capita and peacekeeping operations as a whole per capita over the last decade.

This week we drill down into the latter measure, comparing the per capita budgets of the five largest ongoing peacekeeping missions, which are also known as “conflict management” missions because of the often unstable and violent contexts in which they operate.

We refer to each mission’s spending per capita as its Per Capita Efficiency (PCE). However, because only budget data (as opposed to actual expenditures) are made readily available by the UN, we estimate PCE by dividing each mission’s budget by its average number of personnel and staff each year.

This at least gives us a sense of the cost of peacekeeping missions per person deployed (including both peacekeepers and civilian staff) and allows us to make meaningful comparisons between missions.

Per Capita Efficiency (PCE) of the five largest UN Peacekeeping Missions

Data Source: United Nations. Prepared by the Center on International Cooperation. Per Capita Efficiency is estimated by dividing each peacekeeping mission’s budget appropriations (which are set each year for the period beginning July 1st and ending the following June 30th) by its annual average number of civilian and uniformed personnel. Figures are based upon available data through mid-2017 and may be subject to revision. “Uniformed personnel” refers to military and police personnel.

One thing that stands out are the very high first year figures for UNAMID (Darfur) and MINUSCA (Central African Republic). 2008 was UNAMID’s first full year after being established, and there were still thousands of troops yet to be deployed, leading to an artificially high PCE estimate for that year. Same for MINUSCA in 2014. First-year PCE estimates may also be higher due to large up-front costs of peacekeeping, such as building bases and camp infrastructure at the beginning of missions.

The other missions were also in the process of reaching full deployment during their first years, but managed to move somewhat more quickly in this regard, hence their lower numbers.

Another outlier is UNAMID in 2017. That low number, we believe, can be partially attributed to UNAMID beginning to draw down, but it is artificially low due to a General Assembly decision in mid-2017 to only approve six months of UNAMID’s budget at a time. In actuality, UNAMID’s 2017 PCE is probably close to that of MONUSCO.

We’re now left with some open questions. For instance, why have MINUSCA, MINUSMA (Mali), and UNMISS (South Sudan) allotted so much more money per person, on average, than MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo)? If the answer is that these missions have been slower to deploy relative to MONUSCO (which was continued from a previous mission in DR Congo dating back to 1999), then what contributed to that relative slowness? Were budgets or troop ceilings overly ambitious? Were troop contributing counties unwilling or unable to meet the goals set in these missions’ mandates?

It will be interesting to update this analysis once 2018 data is available, to see if these trends have persisted or begun to taper or converge. As we pointed out in our second post, MINUSMA and MINUSCA have been hiring larger numbers of civilian staff, but as of 2017 still appeared to be dealing with gaps in staffing relative to other missions, as well as gaps in uniformed personnel in the cases of MINUSMA and UNMISS.

It would also be illuminating to run this analysis again if data on actual expenditures are ever assembled in one place or becomes easier to gather (it is currently scattered across many different UN documents). Then we could get straight to the heart of “Per Capita Efficiency” rather than estimating it.

If you have more ideas about what we’ve noticed here, we welcome your tweets @PeaceOpsCIC or @nyuCIC.

In our next post, we’ll explore an unusual divergence between budget appropriations for military personnel vs. operational requirements that has developed over the last five years in UN Peacekeeping.


Thanks for reading CIC Data in Focus. We welcome and appreciate your feedback. Drop us a line at paulvonchamier[at] if there’s something you’d like to see us add to the blog.

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