United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS (Purpose)

The first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) met in Geneva in 1964, in accordance with ECOSOC res. 917 (XXXIV) (1962). GA res. 1995 (XIX) (1964) established UNCTAD as one of its organs and set its terms of reference. The Conference, which meets every four years, held its most recent session (UNCTAD IX) in Midrand, South Africa, from 26 April to 11 May 1996. The next session will be held in Thailand in February 2000.

UNCTAD IX, held on the theme "Promoting growth and sustainable development in a globalising and liberalising world economy" set priorities for UNCTAD's future work on trade and related development issues, aimed at facilitating the full integration of developing countries, in particular least developed countries and economies in transition, into the world economy and international trading system. These priorities and specific practical recommendations were embodied in the final Conference document entitled "A Partnership for Growth and Development".

The Conference also adopted the "Midrand Declaration", which reaffirmed the importance of further vigorous efforts to realise the partnership for development espoused at UNCTAD VIII, held in Cartagena De Indias, Colombia. Recognising the different starting points and different impacts of globalisation on countries, the Declaration emphasised the importance of strengthening cooperation between developed and developing countries, between developing countries, between multilateral institutions, as well as dialogue and partnership between public and private sectors, to bring about an effective partnership for development.

The three thematic areas for discussion at UNCTAD X in Thailand were Trade, Finance and Investment, and other development-related areas.

Purpose

The principle function of UNCTAD is the promotion of international trade, with a view to maximising the trade and development opportunities to developing countries. UNCTAD's role as the focal point within the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and related development issues in the area of trade, finance, technology, investment and sustainable development was reaffirmed at UNCTAD IX.

OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND COOPERATING ORGANISATIONS

Department of Trade and Industry
National Treasury
Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology
Department of Agriculture
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

RELEVANT TREATIES/PROTOCOLS ETC.

Agreement on Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP)
Uruguay Round Agreement

GENERAL COMMENTS

South Africa is a member of UNCTAD and was elected President for a four-year period at UNCTAD IX in Midrand in April 1996. Thailand became chair of UNCTAD X during February 2000.

South Africa will be participating in UNCTAD X in Thailand during February 2000, and took part in various preparatory meetings, manifesting its commitment towards UNCTAD and its effective functioning.

South Africa's general policy is to effect changes within the structures of UNCTAD in a manner that would benefit the developing of the least developed countries.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa