United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Unctad

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad)


a body of the UN General Assembly established in 1964. Members of the UN and its specialized agencies and of the International Atomic Energy Agency belong to the conference.

The basic aims of UNCTAD are to promote the expansion of trade between countries at different levels of economic development, between the developing countries, and between countries with different socioeconomic systems; to work out principles and policies in international trade and to study problems of economic development in connection with international trade; to coordinate the activities of other UN agencies in international trade; to initiate negotiations and to confirm multilateral trade agreements; and to coordinate the trade and development policies of states and regional economic groups.

The establishment of UNCTAD was an important victory of the progressive forces that advocate a restructuring of international economic relations. It was made possible through the active cooperation of socialist and developing countries in solving a wide range of trade and development problems through the establishment of new principles in international trade and cooperation.

According to its bylaws, UNCTAD meets once every three years. To carry out the functions of the conference between sessions, a permanent elected body has been set up, the Trade and Development Board, which meets once a year. The board has 55 members: 31 from the developing countries, 18 from the developed capitalist countries, and six from the socialist countries. To serve as its auxiliary agencies, the board has set up standing committees, including committees on raw material commodities, manufactures, trade financing, and shipping, as well as a special committee on preferences.

The first UNCTAD session, held in Geneva in 1964, worked out and announced principles of international trade relations and policy based on the sovereign equality of states. These principles proceed from the eradication of the remnants of colonialism as a necessary condition of economic development. The progressive conception of international economic cooperation presented in joint proposals of the Polish People’s Republic, the USSR, and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic greatly influenced the framing of these principles.

The second session, held in New Delhi in 1968, worked out and approved a program of action for improving the market position of several raw material commodities that play an important role in the export of many developing countries. The program emphasized the conclusion of international trade commodity agreements. The second session also adopted resolutions on the conditions of aid to the developing countries and on problems of trade and economic cooperation between states with different socioeconomic systems.

However, because of the opposition of the imperialist powers, many progressive principles of international cooperation have still not become a norm of mutual relations between all countries. The situation on the world commodity markets has become more difficult, especially for the developing countries. These complications are expressed in the dynamics of prices on raw materials, in the developing countries’ balance of payments, and in the growing instability in currency and finance relations. One important reason for the complications is that the majority of the developed capitalist countries thwart the implementation of the recommendations of the UNCTAD sessions. There are also continuing attempts to reduce UNCTAD’s role and to shift the solution of pressing economic problems to other agencies, in particular to GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) that lack the authority and competence to exercise UNCTAD’s functions. The work of UNCTAD is also made difficult since it still has not become a universal organization. The USSR persistently fights to raise the role of UNCTAD in every possible way and to implement progressive principles of trade; it vigorously supports the strivings of the developing world countries for a just international division of labor, for the speediest eradication of the after-effects of colonialism, and for the development of independent national economies.

The third session of UNCTAD was held in the spring of 1972 in Santiago, Chile.


OON i mezhdunarodnoe ekonomicheskoe sotrudnichestvo. Moscow, 1970.
Fomin, V. V. IuNKTAD: Mezhdunarodnaia organizatsiia po torgovle i razvitiiu. Moscow, 1970.


Encyclopedia browser ?
Full browser ?