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The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)


The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development seeks to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis. UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental conference and was established in 1964 as the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment and development issues.

UNCTAD provides a forum for the examination of trade and development issues and encourages consensus-building for reformulation of policies. Its intergovernmental meetings, analytical and research work, and technical cooperation programs are designed to play a role in helping developing countries, in particular the least developed countries (LDCs), and economies in transition, better understand how to design policies for an efficient integration into the world economy.

UNCTAD’s work program is set every four years at a ministerial-level conference. The first UNCTAD Ministerial was held in Geneva in 1964, and the eleventh and most recent Conference , UNCTAD XI was held in Sao Paolo, Brasil in  2004 where the Sao Paolo Consensus was adopted to highlight the Organization’s policy for the next 4 years. Between sessions of the quadrennial conference, UNCTAD’s governing body, the Trade and Development Board (TDB), holds annual sessions each autumn in Genevato review UNCTAD’s various activities. As part of its standing agenda, the TDB examines interdependence and global economic trends as addressed in the annual “Trade and Development Report.”

The UNCTAD secretariat prepares and issues an analytical report dealing with aspects of Africa’s economic performance and prospects, which serves as a basis for the Board’s deliberations. Finally, the Board also reviews the work of UNCTAD’s intergovernmental meetings convened throughout the year including the expert meetings, commission sessions as well as technical cooperation activities, and cooperation with other international organizations. At present, the Board is comprised of 144 member states and is open to all UNCTAD members.

Further details can be found on the UNCTAD website