What are the LDCs?
Since 1971, the United Nations has recognized the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as the “poorest and weakest segment” of the international community. Extreme poverty, the structural weaknesses of their economies and the lack of capacities related to growth, often compounded by structural handicaps, hamper the efforts of these countries to improve the quality of life of their people. These countries are also characterized by their acute susceptibility to external economic shocks, natural and man-made disasters and communicable diseases.
How many countries are the LDCs?
The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries: 33 in Africa, 14 in Asia and the Pacific and one in Latin America. Cape Verde graduated from the list at the end of 2007 and Maldives on 1 January 2011.
Which countries are recognized as LDCs?
Africa : 33 countries
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauretania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Asia and the Pacific: 14 countries
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Yemen.
Latin America and the Caribbean: 1 country
What qualifies a country to be an LDC?
The United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP) uses the following criteria to identify LDCs:
1) Low-income, measured by an average income per person over three years. An average income less than $745 per person per year is considered for inclusion, and above $900 for graduation;
2) Weak human resources, as measured by indicators of nutrition, mortality of children aged five years or under; secondary school enrolment; and adult literacy rate;
3) High economic vulnerability, measured by population size; remoteness; diversity of goods exported, share of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the economy; instability of agricultural production; instability of exports of goods and services; and homelessness owing to natural disasters.
Does the country have to satisfy all of the above-mentioned criteria to be added to the list of LDCs?
Yes. A country must satisfy all three criteria to be added to the list of LDCs. In addition, its population must not exceed 75 million. A country under consideration has to give its consent before its new status is approved by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Which countries have graduated from the list of LDCs?
Since the establishment of the category in 1971, only two countries have graduated from the list: Botswana in 1994 and Cape Verde in 2007. Maldives graduated 1 January 2011 and Samoa is set to graduate in 2014.
What is required to graduate from the list of LDCs?
In order to graduate from the LDC category, a country must reach the threshold levels for graduation on at least two of the aforementioned three criteria, or its income per capita must exceed twice the threshold level. The likelihood that the level of income per capita is sustainable must be deemed high.
In addition, there is a three year “smooth transition” period to assist graduating countries adjust to the loss of benefits associated with being an LDC.
What benefits do LDCs receive?
The international support measures associated with LDC status are related to trade preferences, development financing, including Official Development Assistance, debt relief, technical assistance and other forms of support. LDCs that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) also benefit from special and differential treatment regarding WTO-related obligations.
What is the Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs?
Adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Brussels, Belgium, in May 2001, the Programme of Action sets out wide-ranging actions to be implemented by LDCs and their development partners for the sustainable development of the LDCs. The broad aim of the 10-year Programme is to significantly reduce extreme poverty and hunger through focused interventions in seven interlinked areas.
What are the seven areas of focus of the Brussels Programme?
1) Fostering a people-centred policy framework;
2) Good governance at national and international levels;
3) Building human and institutional capacities;
4) Building productive capacities to make globalization work for LDCs;
5) Enhancing the role of trade in development
6) Reducing vulnerability and protecting the environment;
7) Mobilizing financial resources.
What are the main challenges facing the LDCs?
● High levels of poverty: More than half the 800 million people in the LDCs live on less than a dollar a day. Women in LDCs have a one in 16 chance of dying in childbirth, compared to one in 3500 in North America.
● Food insecurity: More than 300 million Africans, where 33 out of the 48 LDCs are located, are food insecure.
● Economic vulnerability: LDCs are highly dependent of external sources of funding, including official development assistance, workers’ remittances and foreign direct investment. This overly exposes them to external shocks such as the global financial crisis, which has had a severe impact on their economies.
● Environmental vulnerability: While they contribute least to climate change, LDCs are among the groups of countries most affected by climate change. Poor housing, over-dependence on natural resources and the lack of adaptive capacity all people in LDCs at a greater risk to the impact of climate change than people in other countries. Many LDCs are also small islands whose very survival is threatened by rising sea levels.
What will happen at the end of the Brussels Programme?
The Brussels Programme of Action comes to an end in 2010. A process to assess performance is underway. This will lead to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in 2011 to adapt measures for further action.
What is the LDC-IV Conference?
In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV). The Fourth United Nations Conference will assess the results of the Brussels Programme as it comes to an end and propose new actions to address enduring as well as new development challenges faced by LDCs, including the impact of climate change and the food, energy and economic crises.
When and where will the LDC-IV Conference take place?
The conference would be held for five days in the first half of 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.
What are the objectives of the LDC-IV Conference?
In accordance with UN General Assembly resolutions and a guidance note of the UN Secretary-General, the objectives of LDC-IV are to:
● Assess the implementation by LDCs and their development partners of the Programme of Action for LDCs adopted in Brussels in 2001 (Brussels Programme);
● Share best practices and lessons learnt, and identify obstacles and constraints encountered as well as actions needed to overcome them;
● Identify new challenges and opportunities for LDCs and the actions required at national and international levels to respond to them effectively;
● Reaffirm the global commitment to address the special needs of the LDCs made at the major United Nations conferences and summits.
● Mobilize additional international support measures and action in favour of the LDCs and, in this regard;
● Formulate and adopt a renewed partnership between the LDCs and their development partners.
What are the preparations for the LDC-IV Conference?
Preparations for LDC-IV are taking place at national, regional and international levels.
● National level preparations will enable the 49 LDCs to assess the results of the Brussels Programme at the country-level and to make recommendations for further action in the context of their respective national priorities.
● Through regional level preparations, LDCs in the two regions – Africa plus Haiti and Asia and the Pacific plus Yemen – will share experiences, discuss shared challenges and opportunities, and identify regional mechanisms, including regional institutions, to respond to them.
● The outcome of the regional-level preparations will feed into global preparations, including two inter-governmental preparatory committee meetings that will be held in 2011 to generate consensus ahead of the conference.
● Thematic reviews at the global level will allow UN agencies and other international organizations to contribute expert knowledge in their respective areas.
What are the main components of the LDC-IV Conference?
The conference and preparations for it will have the following main components:
● Inter-governmental track involving the governments of LDCs and their development partners;
● Parliamentary track involving members of the legislature from LDCs and their development partners, organized in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU);
● International Organizations track with thematic activities organized by the UN System and other International Organizations;
● Civil society track with activities by civil society organizations, including NGOs, academia, media and foundations, organized in cooperation with the United Nations;
● Private sector track involving activities by private sector actors organized in cooperation with the United Nations.
The various components are not exclusive of each other. There will be interaction among them with participation in each open to all stakeholders.
Who can participate in the LDC-IV Conference?
The conference and its preparatory process will be inclusive and transparent to promote dialogue between all stakeholders, including governments, civil society, private sector, business associations, philanthropic and non-profit organizations, parliamentarians, academia and media.
What is UN-OHRLLS?
UN-OHRLLS is the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States. It is a department of the United Nations Secretariat located in New York. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in January 2002 to mobilize international support for the effective implementation of development programme of action such as the Brussels Programme for Least Developed Countries; The Almaty programe for Landlocked Developing Countries; and the Barbados Programme and Mauritius Strategy for Small Island Developing States .
What does UN-OHRLLS do?
UN-OHRLLS undertakes advocacy and mobilizes international support for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). It also coordinates UN support and monitors the implementation of the programmes of action for the three groups of countries.
The key functions of UN-OHRLLS as decided by the UN General Assembly are to:
● Assist the UN Secretary-General in mobilizing and facilitating coordinated implementation, follow-up and monitoring of the Programme of Action for the LDCs at country, regional and global levels;
● Provide coordinated support to the Economic and Social council as well as the General assembly in assessing progress and in conducting the annual review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for LDCs;
● Ensure the effective implementation of the Almaty Declaration and Almaty Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries;
● Support the coordinated follow-up of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development for Small Island developing States;
● Undertake advocacy work for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States in partnership with other parts of the United Nations as well as with the Civil society, the media, academia, and foundations;
● Assist in mobilizing international support and resources for the implementation of the programmes of action for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States;
● Provide support to group consultations of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Who is the High Representative of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS?
Cheick Sidi Diarra of Mali has been the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States since July 2007. He succeeded Anwarul K. Chowdhury of Bangladesh, who was High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States from 2002 to June 2007. Mr. Diarra is also the UN Special Adviser on Africa.
How do I contact the Office of the High Representative?
For general inquiries, please contact Mr. Ricardo Dunn, Information Officer, Tel: +1-212-963-9078, Email: