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 it, our last post we discussed a divergence between uniformed personnel and operational requirements as a percentage of the UN peacekeeping budget over the last several years.
To remind our readers, what we found in our last post is that that operational requirements (e.g. transportation, facilities and infrastructure, communications) as a percentage of total peacekeeping budgets have fallen quite a bit since 2013, while the percentage of budgets dedicated to uniformed personnel (i.e. troops and police) has conversely risen.
In absolute terms, all three peacekeeping budget categories have shrunk over the last few years, but appropriations for operational requirements have been falling especially fast, resulting in this proportional divergence post-2013:
To try to make sense of this post-2013 divergence (and to see if further questions arise) we’ve drilled down into trends among particular operational requirements, of which there are several that are disaggregated in each peacekeeping budget.
The five major categories graphed above account for about 92% of all operational requirements in peacekeeping budgets since 2006. There are between five and nine other categories not shown above (depending upon the year), but their budgets are relatively negligible and do not have a significant impact on trends in operational requirements as a whole.
2009 saw the highest appropriations for operational requirements (whether we look at the top five or all of them), after which the operational requirement budgets bounced around somewhat from year to year but exhibited a downtrend overall.
One exception, until 2016, was the category “Other supplies, services and equipment.” Looking at peacekeeping budget documents, it’s not entirely clear what falls under this category, but some recorded items include costs related to supply chain and shipping disruptions, acquisitions of certain defensive equipment and transportation assets, and losses on exchange cause by currency exchange rate fluctuations.
The big question here is why most of the major operational requirements have received/needed less money over time. Are some costs being shifted into the “Other supplies, etc.” category, or into the uniformed personnel portion of the budget? Is this trend a natural function of missions getting older, considering the significant up-front costs of building bases and camp infrastructure in missions’ early years?
Considering the current ages of the largest peacekeeping missions (most being between four and seven years old), this last explanation seems likely to be at least one reason for what we’ve observed here.
If you have more ideas or questions about what we’ve noticed, we welcome your tweets @PeaceOpsCIC or @nyuCIC.
Thanks for reading CIC Data in Focus. We welcome and appreciate your feedback. Drop us a line at paulvonchamier[at]nyu.edu if there’s something you’d like to see us add to the blog.