U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Washington, DC
April 15, 2002

United Nations Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures

On December 12, 1980, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 35/142 B, entitled "Reduction of Military Budgets," which introduced the UN system for standardized reporting of military expenditures. The resolution recommended that all member states make use of the reporting instrument and report annually to the Secretary-General, and requested the Secretary-General, in turn, to report on the matter to the General Assembly on an annual basis. The reporting instrument covers military related expenditures on the operating costs of personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement and construction, and research and development. It has been in operation since 1981.

The purpose of the UN Standardized Reporting Instrument for Military Expenditures is to contribute to a broad effort to develop a set of specific measures for the purpose of facilitating the reduction of military expenditures. UN General Assembly resolution 56/14 of December 2001, adopted without a vote by Member States, observed that transparency in military matters is an essential element for building a climate of trust and confidence between States worldwide. Also, a better flow of objective information on military matters can help relieve international tensions and is therefore an important contribution to conflict prevention. The UN Standardized Reporting Instrument for Military Expenditures has also played an important role in acting as a model for similar reporting instruments, such as the one used by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

More than 90 governments have participated in the military expenditure instrument on one or more times. These governments together constitute around 80 percent of the global military expenditure. In 2001, the Secretary-General received reports from 61 governments compared to fewer than 40 in 2000. This is a significant increase considering that only between 20-25 Member States of the United Nations, on average, chose to submit information on their military spending during the 1980s. Approximately, 30-35 countries have participated during the 1990s. Participation by African and Asian countries has been minimal.

The UN Standardized Reporting Instrument for Military Expenditures originated in the General Assembly resolution 3093 B (XXVIII) of December 7, 1973. The resolution called for a 10 percent reduction in the military expenditures of the major Powers and the transfer of 10 percent of the money thus saved to international development programs. Following a request from the General Assembly in December 1975, the Secretary General appointed a Group of Experts to determine the scope, content, and most appropriate method of assessing military expenditures. The Group developed a definition of military spending, designed a standardized reporting instrument, and recommended that Member States begin reporting their military spending on the basis of a standardized matrix. In 1978, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to carry out a pilot reporting exercise, which was conducted between 1979 and 1980. Yielding substantive responses from fourteen countries, the standardized military expenditure reporting instrument was deemed a success. As a consequence, the General Assembly approved the standardized instrument in resolution 35/142 B and recommended that all Member States make use of this instrument to report their military spending on a yearly basis to the Secretary-General.

The UN Standardized Reporting Instrument for Military Expenditures is available to all Member States, encouraging bilateral and regional dialogues on security concerns. Both the reporting forms and the data are available at the UN website,

For further information contact:

Nazir Kamal
Department for Disarmament Affairs
United Nations, NY
Tel: (212) 963-6195
Fax: (212) 963-1121