United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Organization type Organ of the UN General Assembly
Abbreviation UNCTAD / CNUCED
management Mukhisa Kituyi since 2013 Kenya
status active
Founded 1964
Headquarters Geneva Switzerland
Upper organization United NationsU.N. United Nations
UNCTAD website

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ( World Trade and Development Conference for short ; United Nations Conference on Trade and Development , UNCTAD ; French: Conférence des Nations unies sur le commerce et le développement , CNUCED) is a permanent organ of General Assembly of the United Nations based in Geneva .


Its aim is to promote trade between countries with different levels of development (mainly industrialized and developing countries ). In addition, UNCTAD aims to improve understanding between the south and the north (geographically speaking, the southern and northern hemisphere) and develop a new world economic order. The staff of UNCTAD has 400 employees, the chairman is currently (September 2013) Mukhisa Kituyi (Kenya).

Today, UNCTAD includes all UN member countries , whose representatives meet for a conference every four years. UNCTAD's activities are coordinated by a trade and development council that meets every six months. This council is divided into various committees which, in accordance with the work program, deal with, for example, the fight against poverty, international trade in goods and cooperation between developing countries. A special committee oversees a “special department” which enables developing countries to deliver part of their goods exports to more developed countries (especially industrialized countries) with lower customs duties.

In addition, there are currently various groups of experts dealing with investment, finance and privatization issues as well as technology transfer.


Most of the (today's) developing countries were formerly occupied by mostly European colonial powers. They did not attach great importance to a good education of the population of their colonies . Mineral resources and raw materials were exported to the mother country, where they were refined into more highly developed goods - and where the profit remained. This can at least partially explain the current lag compared to the industrialized countries. After decolonization by today's industrialized countries and over time most of the former colonies and now independent countries were admitted to the United Nations , the developing countries soon exceeded the number of industrialized countries in the UN.

There were complaints from the developing countries that they were disadvantaged compared to the industrialized countries and that there was an unjust world economic order (WWO). The representatives of 77 nations met for the first world trade conference from March 23 to June 16, 1964 in Geneva to discuss the problems of international markets and trade. Based on the promising results, the UN General Assembly decided to make this a permanent body with its own organization. UNCTAD was founded in Geneva on December 30, 1964.

In 1993, the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations ( UNCTC , German: Center of the United Nations for Transnational Corporations), which was founded in 1974 and dealt with all matters relating to international companies and transnational direct investments, became the Division on Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development ( German for example: Department for Investments, Technology and Corporate Development) integrated into UNCTAD.


To date, fourteen UNCTAD conferences have taken place:

  1. Conference in Geneva (March 23-June 16, 1964); The conference was chaired by Abdel Moneim El Kaissouni from Egypt.
  2. Conference in Delhi (February 1 - March 29, 1968)
  3. Conference in Santiago de Chile (April 13 - May 21, 1972)
  4. Conference in Nairobi (May 5-31, 1976)
  5. Conference in Manila (May 6-29, 1979)
  6. Conference in Belgrade (June 6th - July 2nd 1983)
  7. Conference in Geneva (July 9th - August 3rd 1987)
  8. Conference in Cartagena (Colombia) (February 8-25, 1992)
  9. Midrand Conference (April 27 – May 11, 1996)
  10. Conference in Bangkok (February 12-19, 2000)
  11. Conference in São Paulo (June 13-18, 2004)
  12. Conference in Accra (April 20-25, 2008)
  13. Conference in Doha (April 21-26, 2012)
  14. Conference in Nairobi (December 15-18, 2016)

General Secretaries

photo Surname Country Term of office
Raúl Prebisch Raúl Prebisch ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 1963-1969
Manuel Pérez-Guerrero Venezuela 1954Venezuela Venezuela 1969-1974
Gamani Corea Sri LankaSri Lanka Sri Lanka 1974-1984
Alister McIntyre GrenadaGrenada Grenada 1985 (provisional)
Kenneth Dadzie GhanaGhana Ghana 1986-1994
Carlos Fortin ChileChile Chile 1994–1995 (provisional)
Rubens Ricupero Rubens Ricupero BrazilBrazil Brazil 1995-2004
Carlos Fortin ChileChile Chile 2004–2005 (provisional)
Supachai Panitchpakdi Supachai Panitchpakdi ThailandThailand Thailand 2005-2013
Mukhisa Kituyi Mukhisa Kituyi KenyaKenya Kenya since 2013


To give impulses for cooperation with developing countries:

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. UNCTAD: A Brief Historical Overview (English; PDF, 157 kB), accessed on March 22, 2009.
  2. UNCTAD website about the UNCTC (English) ( Memento from August 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).