LDC Graduation

The Office of the High Representative provides policy advice and coordinates UN System support to graduating LDCs. It also provides secretariat support to the consultations on General Assembly Resolutions on graduation of countries from the LDC category.

Consult the newly issued Secretary-General Report on LDC Graduation (A/76/271).

The United Nations Committee for Development Policy | Department of Economic and Social Affairs reviews the LDC Category every three years to monitor member countries’ progress against measurements of income, human assets and vulnerability. For more information on these measurements, see the CDP Secretariat (DESA) website here.

Every three years, the CDP submits its recommendations on which countries should be classified as LDCs to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  The UN General Assembly takes the final decision on graduation of countries out of the LDC category.

To reach eligibility for graduation, a country must reach threshold levels for graduation for two of the three criteria in two consecutive triennial reviews. A country may also graduate based on the income criterion alone if it exceeds twice the income threshold and satisfies an assessment that the revenue is sustainable.  

There is no automatic application of the graduation criteria and additional information is considered by the CDP before making its recommendations. The views of the graduating country are considered in this process.

The standard process determined by General Assembly resolution 59/209 in 2004 prescribes a three-year period between meeting the graduation criteria for the second time and the date of effective graduation. However, the General Assembly has granted exceptional extensions of transition period before graduation, mainly due to the occurrence of significant external shocks derailing socioeconomic progress of the graduating countries. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent and cogent example. The pandemic continues to have severe negative development impacts on LDCs, including the risk of a reversal of progress towards sustainable development made by LDCs, which also affects the prospects of graduation. For a comprehensive overview of all UN decisions on graduation of LDCs, see this document.



Graduation Process

After a country has been found eligible for graduation the first time, a Graduation Assessment is produced. This is based on an analysis of how a change in status and subsequent loss of LDC-specific benefits will impact the country, carried out by UNDESA, and a vulnerability profile compiled by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The Graduation Assessment also includes inputs by other UN entities, in particular the UN Country Teams, as well as forward-looking elements that could be considered for a smooth transition strategy.

A CDP member is appointed as country rapporteur to ensure dedicated attention within the Committee. At the following triennial review, if the country is found eligible for the second time, the CDP deliberates based on the Graduation Assessment, country presentation and statement, including a supplementary set of graduation indicators. 

For a comprehensive overview of all UN decisions on graduation of LDCs, see this document.

Preparatory Period Before Graduation

Once the General Assembly decides a country shall graduate from the LDC category, a preparatory period of three years begin.  In exceptional circumstances a longer preparatory period may be allowed.  

During the preparatory period, the country remains in the LDC category and continues to benefit from the associated special support measures. 

Each graduating country should prepare a smooth transition strategy, with the support of the United Nations and its development and trading partners.   

The smooth transition strategy aims to ensure that the country’s sustainable development efforts are not disrupted by the loss of support measures after graduation.

A Guide to Least Developed Country Graduation (2019)



Graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category is a key milestone in the sustainable development progress of a country and requires support from all its stakeholders.

This publication gives a succinct but comprehensive overview of the graduation process for LDCs, including graduation criteria and steps. It also provides additional sources of information and support.

The 2022 version of the Guide to LDC Graduation is forthcoming.

Inter-Agency Task Force on LDC Graduation

Aiming to generate awareness and political support from development and trading partners for the challenges that countries face after graduation, the IATF coordinates support by the UN System and other partners to graduating LDCs so as to enable a smooth and sustainable transition that will not disrupt the trajectory of graduating countries’ development.

Triennial Reviews and Graduation Decisions

At its triennial review in 2021, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) recommended that Bangladesh, Lao PDR and Nepal be graduated from the LDC category with an extended preparatory period of five years.

Fact sheet on LDC category