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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent conference of the General Assembly of the United Nations. UNCTAD promotes fuller integration of developing countries into the world economy by identifying and analysing constraints to trade. The work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on trade and development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.
To fulfil this mandate, UNCTAD carries out three key functions:
• It provides a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, aimed at consensus building.
• It undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection on issues relevant to trade and development as well as technology, finance and sustainable development.
• It provides technical assistance tailored to the specific needs and requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the least developed countries. When appropriate, UNCTAD cooperates with other organizations and donor countries in the delivery of technical assistance.
In performing its functions, the secretariat works together with member Governments and interacts with organizations of the United Nations system and regional commissions, as well as with governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, including trade and industry associations, research institutes and universities worldwide.

The Secretary-General of UNCTAD is Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (Thailand), who took office on 1 September 2005. Dr. Supachai’s term ends in mid-2013. The next Secretary-General is expected to be from the African continent.

The main governing body of UNCTAD is the quadrennial ministerial conferences. The latest - UNCTAD XIII – was held in April 2012 in Doha, Qatar. The main outcome of the Conference was the Doha Mandate, setting out the priorities of work for the next four years.

Between the conferences it is the Trade and Development Board that provides guidance on UNCTAD’s work, in particular in the annual regular session, held each year in September. The Board is supported by the Working Party on the programme budget.

The importance of UNCTAD has declined as more and more developing countries become members of the World Trade Organization. In addition, the organization has suffered from internal problems related to transparency, accountability lack of efficiency and effectiveness. The Danish engagement with UNCTAD has been adjusted accordingly.  

Main Activities of the

Globalization and Development Strategies
• Identify broad trends and prospects in the world economy, such as the recent rise in "South-South" trade
• Identify solutions to the economic development challenges of African countries
• Analyse the effects on least developed countries of international aid and of other efforts to promote development
• Help with the management of developing countries’ debt
Trade in Goods and Services
• Assist developing countries in all aspects of their trade negotiations
• Analyse the impact of competition laws and policies on development
• Encourage the inclusion of environmental issues, such as climate change and preservation of biodiversity, in trade and development policies
• Examine the factors influencing commodity markets
• Help developing country efforts to achieve sustainable commodity exports
• Help commodity-dependent countries diversify their economies
Investment and Enterprise Development
• Analyse trends in foreign direct investment and their impacts on development
• Help countries participate in international investment agreements
• Advise governments on their investment policies through investment policy reviews, guides, and training
• Help with the creation and nurturing of small and medium-sized enterprises
• Help countries establish and observe international standards for accounting
Trade Logistics and Human Resource Development
• Partner with developing countries to address transport and trade facilitation challenges and opportunities
• Technical assistance in trade facilitation reforms and customs automation
• Cooperation in transit transport systems for landlocked and transit developing countries
• Undertake research in maritime and sustainable transport
• Legal and regulatory transport related issues
• Build training networks and organize training in all areas of international trade, in particular for least developed countries