developed nations

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body. It is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment and development issues.

The organization's goals are to "maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis." (from official website). The creation of the conference was based on concerns of developing countries over the international market, multi-national corporations, and great disparity between developed nations and developing nations.

In the 1970s and 1980s UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO).

Currently, UNCTAD has 191 member States and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. UNCTAD has 400 staff members and an annual regular budget of approximately US$50 million and US$25 million of extrabudgetary technical assistance funds.


The inter-governmental work is done at 5 levels of meetings :

  • The UNCTAD Conference - held every 4 years;
  • The UNCTAD Trade and Development Board - the Board manages the work of UNCTAD in between two Conferences and meets up to three times every year;
  • Four UNCTAD Commissions and one Working Party - these meet more often than the Board in order to take up policy, programme and budgetary issues;
  • Expert Meetings - the Commissions will convene expert meetings on selected topics in order to provide substantive and expert input for Commission policy discussions.


UNCTAD produces a number of topical reports, including:

  • The Trade and Development Report
  • The Trade and Environment Review
  • The World Investment Report
  • The Economic Development in Africa Report
  • The Least Developed Countries Report
  • UNCTAD Statistics
  • The Information Economy Report
  • The Review of Maritime Transport
  • The International Accounting and Reporting Issues Annual Review


UNCTAD also conducts various technical cooperation programmes such as ASYCUDA, DMFAS, EMPRETEC and WAIPA.

In addition, UNCTAD conducts certain technical cooperation in collaboration with the World Trade Organization through the joint International Trade Centre (ITC), a technical cooperation agency targeting operational and enterprise-oriented aspects of trade development.

UNCTAD hosts the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR)

Complete List of Secretaries-General and Officers-in-Charge

# Photo Secretary-General Dates in office Country of origin Remarks References
1 Dr. Raúl Prebisch 1963 – 1969 Argentina
2 Mr. Manuel Pérez-Guerrero 1969 – 1974 Venezuela
3 Dr. Gamani Corea 1974 – 1984 Sri Lanka
4 Mr. Alister McIntyre 1985 Grenada Officer-in-Charge
5 Mr. Kenneth K.S. Dadzie 1986 – 1994 Ghana
6 Mr. Carlos Fortin 1994 – 1995 Chile Officer-in-Charge
7 Mr. Rubens Ricupero 1995 – 2004 Brazil
8 Mr. Carlos Fortin 2004 – 2005 Chile Officer-in-Charge
9 Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi 1 September 2005 – present Thailand

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