Least Developed Countries

Least Developed Countries

UN-OHRLLS leads coordination of the UN System and other stakeholders in supporting sustainable development of the Least Developed Countries.

Since UN-OHRLLS was established in 2001, it has been working through a dedicated Least Developed Countries Unit to mobilize and coordinate the UN System and other stakeholders towards supporting implementation, coherent follow-up and monitoring of the Programme of Action (PoA) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the country, regional and global levels.

With the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for the decade 2011 - 2020, UN-OHRLLS has focused on supporting the LDCs to achieve the goals of the IPoA in its eight priority areas. This includes graduation from the LDC category, and other internationally agreed development goals, including the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

As the IPoA draws to a close in 2020, UN-OHRLLS has been mandated by the General Assembly to be the focal point for the preparations of the Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs (LDC5) which will be held in Doha, Qatar in January 2022.

How does UN-OHRLLS work with the UN System and other stakeholders?

UN-OHRLLS plays a leading role in convening the UN System through the Inter-Agency Consultative Group for LDCs and collaborates with UN agencies and other partners on joint events, publications and thematic initiatives in support of LDCs’ priorities. The Office also chairs the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Least Developed Country Graduation, which aims to step up coordinated UN support to government of graduating LDCs to ensure a smooth transition out of the LDC category. 

Monitoring and reporting is critical to understanding the progress LDCs are making in achieving sustainable development. With inputs from the UN System and other stakeholders, the Office prepares the annual report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the IPoA. The Office also produces an annual report on ‘The State of the LDCs’ which provides substantive research and latest trends on how LDCs are progressing in achieving the internationally agreed goals.

The Office also organizes events and undertakes activities related to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to highlight the benefits of coherence between the PoA for the LDCs and the SDGs.

Aside from LDC governments and their development partners, UN-OHRLLS also engages with civil society, media, academia, and foundations to raise awareness of and support the sustainable development aspirations of the LDCs. This work also includes supporting journalists from LDCs to build their capacity in reporting on sustainable development issues pertaining to LDCs.

How does UN-OHRLLS work directly with LDCs?

Through a network of LDCs National Focal Points, the Office engages directly with government representatives from LDCs to ensure coherence between global discussions and national development priorities. Workshops for the National Focal Points are convened annually either at UNHQ or elsewhere. At UNHQ, they typically take place on the margins of either the UNGA Second Committee or the High-Level Political Forum.

At UN Headquarters, UN-OHRLLS works directly with the Permanent Missions of LDCs and the Group of LDCs to facilitate group consultations as well as to convene focused events around thematic development issues.  

UN-OHRLLS also supports the meetings of the ‘Group of Friends of LDCs’ to ensure regular updates and exchange of views on LDCs’ priorities.

Recent Content

Latest news on the Least Developed Countries 

19 November 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging labour markets around the world. Global trends such as globalisation, demographic shifts, climate change and technology have already brought profound shifts to the world of work, and the pandemic has accelerated changes. 

27 October 2020

NEW YORK 27 October 2020 – COVID-19 is impacting the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in unprecedented, profound and disproportionate ways. This is why these countries, often unable to afford comprehensive response plans, need more international support.  

So what does COVID-19 mean for the most vulnerable countries and the support they need from the international community? 

12 October 2020

NEW YORK 12 October 2020 – The Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) set an ambitious goal to see half of the LDCs graduate from the category during its period of implementation of 2011-2020. Though that target has not been met, progress made by several LDCs has led to a record number meeting the graduation criteria.  

08 October 2020

NEW YORK 8 October 2020 – The global response to COVID-19 has been estimated at US$20 trillion and growing. Meanwhile, a mere US$8.5 billion has been spent by international partners to support the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

State of the Least Developed Countries Report 2021

State of the Least Developed Countries Report 2021

Did You Know?


During 2011–2019, the population in LDCs by 21%, reaching the 1 billion mark. Estimates point to a further ↑ up to 1.9 billion inhabitants by 2050.



The % of undernourished people in the world living in the LDCs has from 26.7% in 2011 to 29.9% in 2017.



Enrollments in primary and secondary education in LDCs have more than 2x from 107 million in 2000 to 215 million in 2017.



3 of the African LDCs are among the world’s top performers in terms of the % of parliament seats held by women. In 2021, Rwanda (61%), Senegal (43%) and Mozambique (42%) and had the highest rates observed.