UNMIL Civilian Police Launches Operation Restore Calm with Liberian National Police PC: United Nations Photo

CIC Data in Focus: Personnel Costs in UN Peacekeeping, Part II

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 explored how much the UN has budgeted for peacekeeper staff costs per capita over the last decade, raising some interesting questions.

2 min readSep 11, 2018


Today we’re looking at a slightly different but equally important measure of per capita spending in peacekeeping. We call it Per Capita Efficiency (PCE). Simply put, this is the total cost of UN peacekeeping per peacekeeper and civilian staffer. We can calculate this for all personnel, or disaggregate by uniformed vs. civilian staff and mission-by-mission, to give us a sense of how much money it takes to run UN peacekeeping missions per person.

Readily available budget data allows us to estimate PCE, dividing annual peacekeeping appropriations by the median number of personnel each year

UN Peacekeeping: Per Capita Efficiency, 2006–2017 (all missions)

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

What this tells us is that annual peacekeeping budgets per capita have been fairly consistent since 2006, staying in a band between $60,000 and $70,000 for the most part (green line at bottom). This means that as budgets have fluctuated, the total number of peacekeeping personnel has generally fluctuated in tandem, as one might expect.

However, when we divide peacekeeping budgets by civilian staff only (dark blue line at top), an odd bump emerges post-2012. The absolute number of civilians in UN peacekeeping has fallen about 20 percent since 2010, yet this has not been reflected in budget appropriations.

The same questions we raised in our last post apply here. What were those additional dollars per civilian used for? And why haven’t we seen the increased reimbursement rate for troops reflected in budgets per capita? Has the UN been slow to instate the higher rate, or cut spending elsewhere to offset it?

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

Next time, we’ll compare Per Capita Efficiency across the five largest peacekeeping missions, to see if any are operating more or less efficiently (or perhaps leanly) than others.

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