Countries may "graduate" out of the LDC classification when indicators exceed these criteria. The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States coordinates UN support and provides advocacy services for Least Developed Countries.
In 2007, the United Nations graduated Cape Verde from the category of Least Developed Countries. This is only the second time it has happened to a country. The first country to graduate from LDC status was Botswana in 1994. Samoa may become the third country to graduate in this manner , with a decision on this issue scheduled for 2008.
However, in order to avoid confusion between "least developed country" and "less developed country" (which may both be abbreviated as LDC), and to avoid confusion with landlocked developing country (which can be abbreviated as LLDC), "developing country" is generally used in preference to "less developed country".
Least developed countries suffer conditions of extreme poverty, ongoing and widespread conflict (including civil war or ethnic clashes), extensive political corruption, and lack political and social stability. The form of government in such countries is often authoritarian in nature, and may comprise a dictatorship, warlordism, or a kleptocracy. AIDS is a major issue in a lot of these countries. The majority of LDCs are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Note, however, that the above characteristics generally do not apply to LDCs located in Oceania. Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are politically stable democracies, and lack any form of civil or ethnic strife. Nor are they strongly affected by AIDS. Although they have small economies, often dependent on monocultures, the population generally does not suffer from extreme poverty, thanks to an enduring subsistence sector in the economy. The Solomon Islands is the only Oceanian LDC currently affected by political instability and ethnic tension. In 2006, the United Nations recommended that Samoa be upgraded from LDC status to that of Developing Country. The Samoan government disagreed, and asked for a review of the recommendation. Samoa retains LDC status, pending a decision scheduled for 2008.
During the last United Nations review in 2003, the UN defined LDCs as countries meeting three criteria, one of which was a three-year average estimate of gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than US $750. Countries with populations over 75 million are excluded.
Dr. Chiedu Osakwe, as of 2001 the Director, Technical Cooperation Division at the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization, and adviser to the Director-General on developing country matters, was appointed as the WTO Special Coordinator for the Least Developed Countries beginning in 1999. He worked closely with the five other agencies that together with the WTO constitute the Integrated Framework of action for the Least Developed Countries. They addressed issues of market access, special and differential treatment provisions for developing countries, participation of developing countries in the multilateral trading system, and development questions, especially the interests of developing countries in competition policy.