UN - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
Last published date:

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization founded in 1945 with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. Today the UN pursues this mission by working to prevent conflict, helping parties in conflict make peace, peacekeeping, and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.

The UN is currently made up of 193 Member States, and its mandate is carried out through six main organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. The UN system also includes many affiliated programs, funds, and specialized agencies; all with their own membership, leadership, and budget. These programs and funds are financed through voluntary rather than assessed contributions. Specialized agencies are independent international organizations funded by both voluntary and assessed contributions.

The UN system spends nearly $20 billion annually for different types of goods and services. In 2019, total UN procurement spending was $19.9 billion, a 5.9 percent increase from 2018. Based on 2019 data, the six largest sectors for UN procurement are: 1) Pharmaceuticals, Contraceptives, Vaccines ($3.3 billion), 2) Transportation, Storage, Mail Services ($2.7 billion), 3) Food and Beverage Products ($2.1 billion), 4) Management and Admin Services ($1.8 billion), 5) Building and Maintenance Services ($1.4 billion), and 6) Engineering and Research Services ($1.1 billion).

In 2019, the UN system procured goods and services from 217 different countries, with 133 countries having an annual procurement volume of more than $10 million each. United States companies provided the largest share of UN procurement, capturing $1.7 billion or almost 9 percent of total spending, nearly a 6 percent increase from 2018.

The United Nations publishes a comprehensive annual report on the status of UN Procurement detailing expenditures by country sector and organization. This report can be accessed via the UN’s central procurement portal, United Nations Global Marketplace, at www.ungm.org.