These Are The Places Making Money From United Nations Contracts

Last week, UNOPS, the operational arm of the United Nations, subtly released $56 billion worth of “UN-wide” procurement data from the last five years on its website. The new format makes it easy to search and analyse how the UN funds its operations around the globe.

So what did we find?

All in all, the UN spent $14.3 billion dollars last year. While the top countries may not surprise observers, they are not without controversy. organisations and companies from U.S. and Switzerland (which house the UN’s most important headquarters) receive just over 15 per cent of UN funding. This has been a point of contention for developing countries, who complain that they are awarded a disproportionate amount of UN contracts. They also claim that funding businesses in developing countries would further help spur economic growth and accomplish the goals each contract seeks to set out.

Advocates of the current system claim it is fair because the UN receives most of its funding from rich countries, and would not exist without their support.

However, it does appear that developing countries like India and Russia are receiving a much greater share of contracts than they had in past years. Here are the 15 nations that do the most business with the UN:


Vendor country 2011 Share of total (in 2011) Note: Vendor country designates where a supplier is registered – this will not always be the same as the country of origin of goods

Source: UNOPS, 2012 United States of America $1,534,803,021.91 10.81% Switzerland $735,893,330.09 5.18% India $724,630,023.31 5.11% Russian Federation $597,174,111.05 4.21% Afghanistan $537,300,509.68 3.79% Belgium $455,300,042.12 3.21% France $436,711,828.77 3.08% Italy $423,258,480.89 2.98% Denmark $422,400,542.75 2.98% United Kingdom $417,037,808.38 2.94% Sudan $404,841,260.87 2.85% Kenya $398,823,598.27 2.81% Argentina $365,809,657.34 2.58% United Arab Emirates $306,564,887.38 2.16% Pakistan $267,653,789.00 1.89%But there are some positive trends for developing countries too. In the past five years, 14 of the 15 most valuable contracts awarded were given to companies based in developing countries, for projects based out of their own respective nations (the highest contract awarded was worth $24.5 million). 

Here is an interactive graphic of the top 50 countries which receive UN funds: 


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